JEDDAH: Moroccan child Rayan, who sadly died after an attempted rescue from a well he fell into, has brought to mind similar incidents that took place in Saudi Arabia.
Five-year-old Rayan fell down the 32-meter-deep well in the village of Ighrane in Morocco’s Chefchaouen province on Tuesday afternoon.
In December 2013, Lama Al-Rouqi, a six-year-old Saudi girl, fell into an abandoned artesian well near the northern city of Tabuk. The body of the little girl was found lodged almost 40 meters down the 100 meter-deep well.
The girl was accompanying her family on a picnic before the incident.
Modern technology, including an infrared camera, was used to determine the exact location of Al-Rouqi inside the well. Despite the participation of giant Saudi oil company Aramco in the search, all rescue attempts proved unsuccessful. A body was later retrieved after a long search operation.
DNA tests conducted on the body confirmed that Al-Rouqi had died in the well.
At that time, the Saudi Civil Defense blamed the geography of the area and the small diameter of the well, which measured about 50 centimeters, for the delay in rescue efforts. It noted obstacles facing rescue forces, including earth, wind and soil quality, and the depth of the well.
Several years before the incident, Civil Defense said that a man who fell into a 10-meter-deep well was fortunately rescued.
Following the tragic death of Al-Rouqi, a number of young Saudi people launched a phone app that they said could effectively contribute to reducing well incidents in the Kingdom. The application surged in popularity after Al-Rouqi’s death made national news.
The application, called Lama, provides an easy-to-use platform to report any unknown well found by individuals or authorities. The application can function even without an internet connection.
Available on both Android and iOS systems, the app can help Civil Defense easily locate abandoned wells to bury and destroy them.
Several other well incidents have occurred in the Kingdom in past years. In 2012, a 30-year-old woman fell into a well in the village of Umm Al-Doum in Taif.
In another case, four-year-old Rehab Al-Ofi was retrieved from an abandoned 60-meter-deep well in Al-Qusaiba village in the Madinah region.
However, such incidents are becoming rarer following a decision by Saudi authorities to bury or destroy all disused wells around the Kingdom.