Málaga, Spain: Rescuers in Spain have found the body of Julen Rosello, a two-year-old boy who fell into a borehole near the southern city of Málaga, officials say. The boy disappeared into a narrow well more than 100m (330ft) deep during a family outing on 13 January.
Specialist teams worked day and night in a tunnel that had been dug parallel to the narrow borehole.
The body was found in the early hours of Saturday morning.
“At 01:25 (00:25 GMT), the rescue teams reached the area of the well where they were looking for Julen and they found the lifeless body of the little one,” said Alfonso Rodriguez Gomez de Celis, the central government representative in the region of Andalusia.
The accident happened during a Sunday afternoon excursion in a hilly plantation near the village of Totalán.
The borehole – only 25cm (10in) in diameter – had apparently been left uncovered, although the businessman who had originally had it dug a month earlier insisted that he had sealed it.
Such shafts are dug in the hope of extracting water.
Rescuers had found hair among debris removed from the well and compared it with DNA samples from the boy’s drinking bottle as well as from his family, confirming his identity.
A camera sent down the hole found a snack bag believed to be the one Julen was holding when he fell.
At 73m (240ft) the camera encountered an earth blockage in the shaft.
Rescuers had not picked up any hopeful sign from the boy during the whole operation.
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez wrote on Twitter on Saturday: “All of Spain feels the infinite sadness of Julen’s family.”
“We will always appreciate the tireless effort of those who searched for him during all these days.”
For almost two weeks a flicker of hope kept Spaniards and the country’s media glued to the mountainside which had swallowed two-year-old Julen during a family picnic.
Once rescue workers realised there was no safe way to break downwards through the plug of earth under which the toddler lay, meaning that another shaft would have to be made, logic dictated that the operation was more about recovering Julen’s body than saving his life.
But an unspoken pact banished any such statements while the combined team of Guardia Civil, firemen, mine rescue workers and others worked round the clock.
Now a court in Málaga will attempt to determine the circumstances that saw Julen buried by rubble in a borehole that, according to local authorities, lacked the necessary permit – as do many thousands of others like it around the country.
Julen’s parents José and Victoria have experienced tragedy before.
Residents of El Palo, a nearby district, say the couple’s three-year-old son, Oliver, died suddenly less than two years ago because of a heart problem.