There is a slim or no chance that the 5-year-old boy, who fell into a disused mine shaft in Jerusalem in Boksburg, will be found alive, emergency services have said.

Five-year-old Richard Thole fell into the shaft on Saturday. Rescuers have been trying to reach him ever since.

“If… one wants to start looking at the time frame since Saturday, it’s almost five days now, so technically with the size of the shaft and the challenges we face, the chances of finding the child alive is minimal,” said Ekurhuleni Disaster and Emergency Management Services spokesperson William Ntladi.

Ntladi said that Ekurhuleni Community and Safety MMC Vivienne Chauke, the family of the 5-year-old, the Department of Mineral Resources and Mines Rescue had gone to meet with the mayor to discuss a way forward.

“As a result of that, the operations on site have been temporarily suspended until we get a way forward from the office of the mayor,” Ntladi said.

Earlier, Ntladi said heavy rock falls had delayed rescue efforts.

“This morning, we had five heavy sounds of rock falls coming out of the shaft. There was some vibration from those rock falls on the surface,” he said.

Since Saturday, people have been gathering under a tree near the shaft entrance, hoping for news.

The boy’s mother, Nombeko Thole, was called to the shaft on Wednesday afternoon.

A few minutes later, she returned distraught. She was holding Chauke’s hand.

There has been no sign of the boy since the incident.