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Court starts investigation into how Julen Roselló accident happened

The Civil Guard has taken statements from the parents of the two-year-old, who is stuck in a 110-meter borehole, as well as the owner of the land and the man who carried out the work

Caso Julen
The area in Totalán (Málaga) where the rescue operation is taking place. REUTERS

A Spanish court has begun an investigation into an ongoing incident in Málaga, which saw a two-year-old fall down a 110-meter-deep borehole on January 13. Rescue teams continue to work to locate Julen Roselló, who is thought to be trapped around 70 meters down the hole, under a plug of earth.

The drilling of the borehole did not have the proper permission

According to sources from the Andalusian regional High Court, a Málaga courtroom will be investigating the exact circumstances of the incident, based on statements made to the Civil Guard by the parents of the young boy, the owner of the land where the accident took place, and the person who drilled the borehole in the month of December.

In the first hours after the child fell into the hole, officers from the Civil Guard's nature protection service, Seprona, reconstructed the timeline of events based on statements from Julen’s parents, José Roselló and Victoria García, as well as those of witnesses, such as the owner of the land where the incident took place, who is the partner of one of José Roselló’s relatives.

They also spoke to Antonio Sánchez, the head of a company called Triben Perforaciones and the person who drilled the borehole in the first place. Sánchez told the Civil Guard that he had not uncovered the opening. “I covered it up,” he told EL PAÍS. “They have modified it and lowered the ground.” He added that when he saw the location of the accident, he could see that earth had been moved around after he had completed his job.

The borehole, which is around 110 meters deep and just 25 centimeters wide, is located in Cerro de la Corona, in the municipality of Totalán. The drilling did not have the proper permission, as was confirmed by sources from the Andalusian regional government last week, who pointed out that the regional mining department had no record of the prospection, which was aimed at finding underground water. The local town hall also has no record of granting permission for the borehole.

If a prospection fails to find water, the usual practice is to seal the hole with rocks

A regional official has stated that in such prospections, a borehole must be sealed with “a manhole cover,” or with any other system that completely closes the opening. A number of companies that carry out this kind of work in Málaga province explain that the usual practice in the case of a prospection that fails to find water is to seal the hole with rocks, although there are clients who request that this not be done just in case a spring is found in the future.

Julen’s father, José Roselló, has told reporters that on January 13, he was making a paella on the site of the accident. At one point, he explained, the toddler ran off and fell into the borehole. He explained that he heard him cry for a few moments, and tried to pull him out of the hole, without realizing at the time just how deep it was. Moments later, with the help of two hikers, the emergency services were called. That was at 1.57pm, the moment a rescue operation was put into motion, one that is continuing today, nine days later.

English version by Simon Hunter.

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