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Rescuers hope to reach Julen, the trapped Spanish toddler, by Tuesday

Round-the-clock efforts to find the two-year-old in a 100-meter borehole in Málaga have slowed down after the drill making a tunnel hit very hard rock on Sunday

Julen Rosello
A vertical tunnel is being drilled to reach Julen.

Efforts to rescue a toddler trapped in a deep borehole in southern Spain entered their eighth day on Monday after digging continued throughout the night.

Rescuers are using a vertical boring machine to make a vertical shaft running parallel to the hole that the two-year-old reportedly fell into, but work was slowed down after the machine hit very hard rock on Sunday when it reached a depth of 52 meters, said government officials in Málaga.

When the drill reaches a depth of 60 meters, the tunnel will be cladded for safety. After that, a team of specialized miners flown in from northern Spain will go down and dig the last four meters manually to the spot where Julen Roselló is believed to be located.

The lead engineer overseeing the rescue, Ángel García Vidal, estimated that rescuers will not reach the spot before Tuesday. After a pause in the work for maintenance of the drilling machine, the work got underway again by 11am on Monday morning. “We are continuing to work with high spirits to reach the depth that we need to reach,” García Vidal told reporters on Monday.

The complexity of the operation has turned into a feat of civil engineering that under normal circumstances would take months to plan and complete. But the team in Totalán, Málaga is hoping to manage it in days.

Julen Roselló was playing on a relative’s rural property when he apparently fell into a borehole with a diameter of no more than 30 centimeters that had been covered with loose rocks. The hole is around 100 meters deep, and was made illegally in an effort to find underground water.

A camera has shown that the borehole is blocked at a depth of around 70 meters by rocks and debris, which the child presumably dislodged during his fall.

The town of Totalán has been holding vigils in support of Julen’s parents, who lost another child, aged three, to a sudden cardiac arrest in 2017.

Julen Rosello
Sections of the drill that is digging a vertical shaft in an effort to reach Julen. REUTERS

English version by Susana Urra.

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