The search for a toddler who fell down a well in southern Spain in a tragedy that has gripped the country entered its fifth day Thursday, with hopes dwindling he would be found alive.
Julen Rosello, who is two, fell down a very narrow shaft more than 100 metres (330 feet) deep on Sunday while playing as his parents had lunch nearby in the town of Totalan near Malaga, family members said.
Rescuers are unable to get to where they believe the child is as a layer of earth, sand and stones believed to have been dragged down by Julen when he fell have blocked the well.
The toddler is believed to be underneath and the discovery of several strands of his hair by rescuers appears to confirm that theory.
As such, they are digging two tunnels, one parallel to the well and another at an angle aiming to reach Julen.
But the work is complicated by the state of the soil.
Engineer Juan Lopez told reporters that the vertical tunnel was progressing “for the moment without too many problems.”
But the horizontal one is causing “problems,” he added. Excavating that tunnel “within less than two days is really complicated,” he said.
This race-against-time recalls several other high-profile cases in the 1980s.
Alfredo Rampi, an Italian boy, was found dead in a well near Rome in 1981 while Jessica McClure, an 18-month-old girl, was rescued alive from a well in Texas in October 1987 after more than two days inside.
Like any other 10-month-old, Luis Manuel Gonzales babbles and touches anything within reach. But he stands out in a stunning and perhaps life-threatening way: he weighs 28 kilos (62 pounds).
He might need medical treatment costing a fortune, but his father earns a little over $200 a month. And doctors do not yet know why young Luis Manuel is so huge.
Mexico leads the world in childhood obesity and diabetes, and Gonzales is an extreme example of this unwelcome distinction.
At birth, he weighed 3.5 kilos, about the same as his brother Mario, who is almost three but is now dwarfed by his baby brother.
At two months of age, Luis weighed 10 kilos. Over the next eight months, he gained a staggering 18 kilos.
“I thought it was because I had good breast milk,” said his mother, 24-year-old Isabel Pantoja, speaking in the unpainted cement home where the family lives in Tecoman, in the Pacific coast state of Colima.
His parents created a Facebook page and opened a bank account for people to donate money for Luis Manuel’s medical care.
They take turns pushing him to the hospital in a decrepit stroller for daily blood tests.
It hurts to watch the nurses search among the rolls of fat on his arms for a vein, said his father, Mario Gonzales.
The parents got the shock of their life when a pediatrician told them the boy might need hormone injections that cost $555 each.
And despite lots of study and examination, no one really knows what is wrong with this baby boy.
One of the main hypotheses is that he could have a disease called Prader-Willi Syndrome, a genetic condition in which children have an insatiable appetite and weak muscle tone, although this boy does not eat voraciously or spend the day demanding food.
The disorder can also cause heart problems and delays in the development of the brain and genitals.
Pantoja caresses her son as she recounts that when he was a little more than a month old, the boy had to wear clothes meant for two- or three-year-olds.
The day of his first vaccine he weighed 10 kilos, she said.
– Life in peril but there’s hope – Now he has to go to the hospital as many as four times a week for tests.
One day the stroller simply collapsed under his weight.
During an interview with the parents, Luis Manuel giggled when his feet were tickled. He tried to put things in his mouth, like other babies. And he observed everything with a keen, alert eye.
But he cannot walk or even crawl. He can only sit upright.
Pantoja is becoming exhausted from carrying him so much, said the father, a well-built man who works at a juice plant.
But there is hope. Silvia Orozco, a surgeon who specializes in nutrition, contacted the family and examined the boy.
She concluded that his life might be in danger, but is awaiting the results of tissue sample analyses in the United States.
Orozco said that, rather than Prader-Willi Syndrome, his problem may be this: while pregnant with Luis Manuel, his mother’s diet lacked certain nutrients and this caused glands that manage his metabolism to underperform.
If that turns out to be the case, the prognosis is good and would involve hormone shots.
Two toddlers were hospitalised in serious condition after a playmate accidentally shot them with a loaded gun at a daycare in the US state of Michigan.
The condition of both three-year-olds were upgraded from critical a day earlier, police said Thursday, as they wrapped up their investigation and planned to meet with prosecutors to consider charges.
The accidental shooting took place Wednesday at a private home that functioned as a daycare in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, when a child managed to get a hold of a loaded handgun.
One toddler was shot in the shoulder and was expected to make a full recovery, police said, while another was in serious but stable condition. Police did not detail the second child’s injuries.
“The Dearborn police department has conducted interviews with all parties involved and are in the process of completing the investigation,” police said in a statement.
“Investigators will be meeting with (prosecutors) to determine whether or not charges will be filed in this case.”
As many as 1.7 million American children live in homes with an unlocked, loaded gun, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun violence, and the incident was the latest case of children being injured by unsecured firearms.
Nearly 1,300 children die and 5,790 are treated for gunshot wounds each year in the United States, according to a recent study published in the medical journal Pediatrics.
Michigan state law does not prohibit guns at home child care facilities, but requires them to be unloaded and stored in a locked location away from children, according to the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
The Dearborn child care was run by Samantha Eubanks, herself a mother of six who regularly took care of other children, according to neighbors and family members.
Eubanks was unlicensed, but authorities said it was still unclear whether her child care service met the criteria requiring licensing.
US media reported that police recovered multiple firearms from inside the home, but a woman identified as Eubanks’ sister said she did not permit her husband Tim to keep weapons in their home.
“She would always say don’t you ever bring a gun in this house, it’s not going to happen,” Ashley Escobedo told assembled reporters at the scene.