Hope is fading in South Africa for the family of a five-year-old boy who fell into a disused mineshaft, after a number of failed rescue attempts.
Richard Thole was playing next to his family’s shack near Johannesburg when the ground gave in last Saturday.
His mother, Nombeko Thole, has said: “It hurts, I think my child is dead. I just want him back dead or alive.”
Johannesburg is dotted with disused mines following the 19th Century gold rush which led to the city’s founding.
The army has been requested to help find the boy.
Rescue efforts have been slow because of the volatility of the ground and the acid mine water inside the shaft, officials have said.
Mzwandile Masina, mayor of the local Ekurhuleni district, says there is only 11% oxygen in the shaft, making it almost impossible for the boy to still be alive.
He has told the family to “prepare for the worst”.
Too sad. What a hard life!