Spanish authorities using manpower and heavy machines in a desperate bid to save a 2-year-old boy trapped in a well say they've almost reached him.
The toddler, Julen Rosello, is believed to have fallen into a 10-inch wide, 360-foot deep well on Sunday, January 13. For more than a week, rescuers have worked 24 hours a day in a mission to save Rosello by digging him out.
Their plan involves digging a 200-foot vertical tunnel alongside the hole Julen fell into, securing it, then sending down a team of specialized miners who will dig to Julen by hand.
The work has been stalled by tough bedrock that forced workers to change the direction of their rescue tunnels last week. But tunnel crews are hopeful they could finally reach the boy by Tuesday.
Authorities, and Rosello's parents, have had to keep up hope that the little boy is still breathing hundreds of feet below the surface. Rescue workers say that if there's enough oxygen where he's trapped, it's still a possibility. But a blockage less than 100-feet below the surface has prevented them from sending Julen food or water.
While there have been no signs of life so far, everyone on the rescue team is working under the assumption that Julen is alive and waiting to be saved.
Experts even suggested to Spanish media that the cold, underground environment could preserve Julen by slowing his metabolism. One case they cited involved a person who survived 10 days in a semi-conscious state.
After oxygen, the most pressing concern is food and water. A pediatrician told the newspaper ABC that Julen could survive at most 10 days without those.
Julen's father, Jose, told Spain's El Pais he was still hopeful last Wednesday. "We can't stop until we get my son out of there," he said.
The Rosellos have already suffered one family tragedy, as their older son, Oliver, reportedly died from a heart attack when he was only three years old.