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  1. ITV Report

Body of trapped Spanish toddler Julen Rosello found in Malaga borehole after 13-day rescue bid

Julen's parents Jose Rosello and Victoria Garcia held a vigil for their son. Credit: AP

A two-year-old boy who fell down a borehole in Spain nearly two weeks ago has been found dead to bring a grim end to a complex rescue operation.

Julen Rosello fell down the narrow, 360-feet (110 metre) deep borehole on January 13 while his family was preparing a countryside Sunday lunch in Malaga.

In one of the few media interviews the child’s parents gave before the body was found, father Jose Rosello said the family was "heartbroken" by the long wait but hoping for "a miracle".

But their worst fears were realised in the early hours of Saturday morning, while it emerged the family had suffered tragedy before.

Spanish officials later paid their respects for Julen outside Malaga town hall.

Spanish newspaper El Pais reported that the couple had lost Julen’s older brother, Oliver, when the three-year-old suffered a heart attack during a walk on the beach two years ago.

Julen’s remains were found in the early hours of Saturday by rescuers digging a tunnel to reach him, said a spokeswoman with the Spanish government’s office in the southern province of Malaga.

Drill and excavating machinery work were used to bore through the rock. Credit: AP

The spokeswoman said that a judicial commission would follow up with the accident’s investigation.

The tragedy had gripped Spaniards from day one and the country had followed closely every turn of an extremely complex operation, frequently hampered by layers of hard rock.

The difficult terrain hampered the rescue effort. Credit: AP

The dry waterhole, only 10 inches in diameter, was too narrow for an adult to get into and hardened soil and rock blocked equipment from progressing to the place two-thirds of the way down where the toddler was trapped.

During the nearly two weeks of the ordeal, officials came up with several alternative routes to the toddler.

A series of small explosions set off since Thursday afternoon, including a fourth one late on Friday, helped the crews make their way through a horizontal tunnel to the cavity.

Before that tunnel could be dug some 230 feet underground, a vertical shaft was drilled during days of painstaking engineering to bring miners and rescue experts up and down.

The difficulty of the operation had prompted Jorge Martin, a spokesman with the Malaga province Civil Guard, to say: “We have to be very careful, here the mountain is in control.”

Only hair that matched Julen’s DNA was found in the borehole and no other verbal or visual contact had been established with him.

Despite that, officials had refused to speculate over whether the boy could have survived so long, until Saturday's discovery ended any lasting doubt.