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Spanish rescuers battle tough conditions to reach toddler

January 21, 2019
Drill machines and excavating machinery work on top of the mountain, left, next to a deep borehole to reach a 2-year-old boy trapped there for six days near the town of Totalan in Malaga, Spain, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. Authorities in southern Spain say that they hope to reach the spot where they believe the two-year-old boy who fell in a borehole six days ago is trapped in approximately 35 hours. The leading engineer coordinating the search-and-rescue operation says Saturday that the estimate depends on everything "going favorably." (AP Photo/Gregorio Marrero)

MADRID (AP) — Spanish officials say rescuers are making slow progress in exceptionally difficult conditions to reach a 2-year-old boy who fell into a narrow, deep borehole in the countryside eight days ago.

Angel Garcia, the leading engineer coordinating the search-and-rescue operation, says work had to stop briefly early Monday to perform maintenance on a drill being used to create a vertical shaft.

Garcia says the rocks are extremely hard and the drill has been working nonstop for many hours.

The shaft runs parallel to the borehole and aims to go down 60 meters (197 feet) — roughly to where the boy is believed to be.

The drill has so far reached 53 meters. After that, miners will be lowered down the shaft to dig a horizontal tunnel to the boy’s presumed location.