Hundreds of Moroccans gathered on Monday to bury “little Rayan,” who died after a four-day rescue operation failed to save him, BBC News reported.
Rayan fell down the 104-foot well on Feb. 1, and the efforts to get him out spurred worldwide media coverage. When he was finally pulled out of the hole on Saturday evening, his perceived rescue was met with cheers from the crowd, only for it to be revealed the boy had died, BBC News reported.
The funeral, which took place in Rayan’s home village, had so many attendees that they could not all fit in the hilltop cemetery and prayer site, BBC News reported. Players and fans at Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations final in Cameroon took part in a moment of silence in honor of Rayan.
“I am over 50 years old and [have] never seen as many people in a funeral. Rayan is the son of us all,” one villager told Reuters.
When the accident occurred, the boy was accompanying his father who was repairing the well. The narrowness of the hole made the rescue attempt difficult, with several attempts by volunteers failing.
Bulldozers were eventually used to cut a huge trench next to the well to reach Rayan, BBC News reported. (RELATED: 11-Year-Old Saves Classmate From Choking, Then Rescues Woman From Burning House)
Pope Francis praised the “beautiful” way people had “worked together to save a child” when expressing his sadness over Rayan’s death, BBC News reported. Morocco’s King Mohammed VI reportedly called the boy’s parents to offer his condolences.
“We thank His Majesty the King, the authorities and all those who have helped us,” Rayan’s father said on Saturday evening, BBC News reported. “Praise God, have mercy on the dead.”
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