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Boy trapped for three days in Afghan well dies after rescue

SHOKAK, AFGHANISTAN (AFP) – A five-year-old boy trapped for three days down a remote Afghan village well died minutes after being pulled out yesterday, following a rescue effort the country’s new Taleban rulers said showed they would spare nothing for their citizens.

The child, named Haidar, on Tuesday slipped and fell to the bottom of a well being dug in Shokak, a parched village in Zabul province, about 400 kilometres southwest of the capital Kabul.

“With great sorrow, young Haidar is separated from us forever,” said Taleban Interior Ministry senior advisor Anas Haqqani, in a tweet echoed by several of his colleagues.

“This is another day of mourning and grief for our country.”

Zabul police spokesman Zabiullah Jawhar told AFP that Haidar was clinging to life when rescuers reached him.

Rescuers try to reach and rescue a boy trapped for two days down a well in a remote southern Afghan village of Shokak, in Zabul province. PHOTO: AFP

“In the first minutes after the rescue operation was completed, he was breathing, and the medical team gave him oxygen,” he said.

“When the medical team tried to carry him to the helicopter, he lost his life.”

The operation comes around two weeks after a similar attempt to rescue a boy from a Moroccan well gripped the world – but ended with the child found dead.

Haidar’s grandfather, 50-year-old Haji Abdul Hadi, told AFP the boy fell down the well when he was trying to “help” adults dig a borehole in the drought-ravaged village.

Officials said he fell to the bottom of the narrow 25-metre shaft, then was pulled by rope to within about 10 metres of the surface before becoming stuck.

Senior officials from the Taleban’s newly installed government oversaw the rescue operation in Shokak, which was watched by hundreds of villagers – many related to the child.

They despatched bulldozers and other earth-moving equipment to the site, as well as one of the country’s few airworthy helicopters in case he required medical evacuation to hospital.