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Rescue efforts to reach toddler trapped inside well in Spain slowed by technical challenges

Attempts to dig an intersecting tunnel to reach the 2-year-old who fell down the hole Sunday are facing complications.
Image: Rescue workers continue efforts to find a boy who fell down a well in Totalan
Rescue workers continue efforts to find a boy who fell down a well in Totalan in southern Spain on Jan. 17, 2019.Jorge Guerrero / AFP - Getty Images

Technical challenges have slowed the fourth day of rescue operations to reach a toddler trapped in a narrow well in southern Spain, officials said.

The 2-year-old boy, Julen Rosello, fell into the well on Sunday while his family was having a picnic in the mountainous region of the province of Málaga. At a press conference Thursday, a mining engineer said two digging operations were underway to reach the boy.

"We are working from both sides and we'll see who gets there first," Juan Escobar explained. "Without time to do a preview study of the area, we will face difficulties. The most important thing here is to be able to get close to the boy."

Crews have worked day and night trying to reach Julen stuck in the 360-foot deep hole. Officials had previously misspelled his name as "Yulen."

But the construction of an intersecting tunnel needed to reach the well won't begin until Friday, said Angel Garcia Vidal, a representative of Spain's college of civil engineers.

The challenging terrain has caused complications, slowing down the dig, he said.

The well is only 10 inches wide. An attempt to widen it failed earlier this week when crews hit hard rock around the 262-foot mark.

Officials said there is evidence of some ventilation or an air pocket within the well, but it's unclear if air is running through the entire depth of the hole.

About 100 people from the town of Totalán gathered near the site to show support for the rescuers and the family late Wednesday. The family's neighbor, Patricia Calderon, described the ordeal as "living a nightmare."

"We have Julen in our mind at all times," she said.

The boy's parents have waited at the surface as the search drags on. Julen's father, Jose Rosello, told reporters on Wednesday, "My wife is broken. ... We are dead inside."