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Search continues for toddler thought to have fallen into 100-meter-deep borehole

The parents of two-year-old Julen lost another child in 2017, according to locals from their neighborhood

Emergency services on the scene.
Emergency services on the scene. EP

The rescue mission to save a two-year-old toddler who is thought to have fallen down a 100-meter-deep borehole in Málaga in the south of Spain has entered its second day. Julen Roselló went missing at midday on Sunday after his family went to the mountains for lunch on a relative’s farm.

While his father José was preparing a paella, Julen allegedly fell into a 25-centimeter-wide bore hole. No one was able to stop the fall, according to relatives who were there. Julen’s one-and-a-half-year-old cousin, who was playing with him at the time, escaped uninjured.

It was a huge tragedy for the family

Local Bienvenido Ariza

The tragedy is the second to hit Julen’s parents José and Victoria, who lost another child less than two years ago, according to locals of the El Palo neighborhood where the family lives. Residents there say the parents were devastated after their three-year-old son Óliver died suddenly in the spring of 2017. The child was walking with his parents across a beach when he died.“It was a huge tragedy for the family,” explained Bienvenido Ariza, who owns a business next to the block where Julen’s grandparents live.

Niño pozo
The borehole the young boy is thought to have fallen into. Europa Press

José and Victoria are well known in their neighborhood, having lived for years at the foot of the mountains in Totalán, a town near Virginia beach at the eastern edge of Málaga. Locals of the town say the death of Óliver marked a before and after for the couple, especially for the mother, Vicky, as she is known in the area. In the wake of this latest tragedy, the town has offered the parents their support despite the dire outlook. “Hope is the that last thing that should be lost,” they said, “Hopefully there will be a miracle.”

Since Julen disappeared on Sunday, no other issue has been discussed. “This very Friday we saw them all here shopping at the supermarket,” patrons at the Échate Pallá bar explained.

Julen’s parents and most of their family spent the day on Monday with the rescue operation. The Emergency and Disaster Psychological Intervention Group (Giped) from the Andalusian Psychological College and a team of experts from Málaga’s emergency services have traveled to the scene to provide support for the family. Both the Civil Guard spokesperson and the government subdelegation are yet to make a statement on the situation.

Civil guard officers at the scene of the accident.
Civil guard officers at the scene of the accident. EL PAÍS

Meanwhile, the search for Julen continues. Early Tuesday morning, Civil Guard officers worked to remove material from the borehole but without success. The depth of the hole has made the work difficult and the team were only able to remove 60 centimeters of soil and rock. A robotic camera also hit another barrier of material just 80 meters under the ground.

The rescue team have decided to excavate a horizontal tunnel to the borehole

The rescue team have now decided to excavate a horizontal tunnel to the borehole, taking advantage of the slope of the hillside. But time is running out to find the toddler alive. His survival is based on the belief that there is an air bubble underground. As the tunnel is being bored, Civil Guard officers are continuing to excavate the borehole with an air suction machine.

Civil Guard officers are also working to piece together what happened on Sunday “like in any other disappearance,” said María Gámez, the government subdelegate in Málaga.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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