Spanish rescuers find body of toddler trapped in well

There had been no signs of life since the boy had fallen into the borehole as his family was walking through a private estate in Totalan in southern Spain.
Image: Rescue operation of a two year old boy who fell into a 110 meters well in Malaga
Helicopters of the Spanish Civil Guard reportedly carrying explosive materials arrive on site to find two-year-old Julen, in Totalan, Malaga, Spain on January 25, 2019.Daniel Perez / EPA

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By Reuters

TOTALAN, Spain — Rescuers on Saturday found the dead body of a 2-year-old boy who had fallen into a deep narrow well in southern Spain nearly two weeks ago.

Miners had been drilling day and night to reach the boy, Julen, in the borehole — 300 feet deep and just 10 inches wide — which was blocked with soil.

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"At 1:25 a.m., 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 a government spokesperson in Malaga.

Julen's parents embrace each other during a vigil for their son, two-year-old Julen, in Totalan, southern Spain on January 24, 2019.Jon Nazca / Reuters

There had been no signs of life since the boy had fallen into the borehole on Jan. 13 as his family was walking through a private estate in Totalan in southern Spain. Rescuers found the well was blocked with soil, raising fears it had collapsed on top of the child.

The challenging terrain and weather conditions had caused complications, slowing down the dig and making it difficult for crews to reach the boy. Mining engineer Juan Escobar previously said the operation would typically require an in-depth preview study of the landscape, which would take time they didn't have.

On Friday, officials explained that hard rock required miners to set micro-explosions in order to advance the tunnel forward towards the borehole.

"The mountain gives the orders in our work, the mountain marks the pace of work of those people (rescuers)," said Jorge Martin of the Spanish civil guard.

The search captivated Spain, not least because Julen's parents lived through another family tragedy in 2017. According to media reports, their three-year-old son died suddenly while walking along a nearby beach.

In one of the few media interviews they gave before the body was found, father Jose Rosello said the family was “heartbroken” by the long wait but hoping for “a miracle.”

Linda Givetash and Associated Press contributed.