A boy trapped for three days down a well in a village in southern Afghanistan has died, according to several officials.
The child called Haidar on Tuesday slipped to the bottom of a well being dug in Shokak, a drought-ravaged village in Zabul province, some 400 kilometres (250 miles) southwest of the capital, Kabul.
Rescuers worked non-stop to save the boy, believed to be aged five, including by digging an open slit trench from an angle at the surface to try to reach the point where he was trapped.
Officials on Friday morning said Haidar was still alive – but they later announced he had died.
“With great sorrow, young Haidar is separated from us forever,” Anas Haqqani, senior adviser at the Taliban-run interior ministry, said in a tweet.
Before the announcement of the boy’s death, Zabul police spokesman Zabiullah Jawhar said: “The rescue team has faced a new obstacle and a rock is preventing them from digging more. We are concerned that dust could fall on the boy, and probably we would lose him, so we are working carefully.”
The boy’s grandfather, 50-year-old Haji Abdul Hadi, told AFP news agency Haidar fell down the well when he was trying to “help” the adults dig a new borehole in the parched village.
Officials said the boy slipped to the bottom of the 25-metre (80-feet) shaft, but was pulled by rope to about 10 metres before becoming stuck.
Senior officials from the Taliban’s newly installed government were overseeing rescue operations in Shokak, watched by hundreds of curious villagers.
The ordeal of “little Rayan” gained global attention and sparked an outpouring of sympathy online, with the Arabic Twitter hashtag #SaveRayan trending.