FINAL STAGES: Officials hope to reach little Julen today in Totalan Credit: Ñito Salas / Diario Sur

IT is the rescue mission that has captivated the world.

Having dug 2.5 metres of the estimated 3.8 metres needed to reach two-year-old Julen, the miners have been confronted with more obstacles.

Miners are facing ‘extremely hard’ rock which they cannot manually perforate with hammers and spades.

The team has so far carried out three small, controlled explosions in order to perforate the rocks obstructing the tunnel, according to Diario Sur.

Eight specialist miners have been working through the night to manually dig the final four metres left to reach the spot where they believe little Julen is stuck.

The process is severely slowing down the efforts, as the miners – who are working through a tiny window in an underground metal tube – must evacuate the tunnel every time an explosive is placed.

They then have to ventilate the well and remove the debris before continuing to dig.

A Guardia Civil helicopter has reportedly flown to Sevilla to collect more explosives in case of further obstructions.

It is unclear how long it will take to dig the final metres but engineers hope they will reach the little tot today.

“We are moving forward centimetre by centimetre. We hope to end by today but we cannot guarantee this because of the circumstances of the terrain,” Francisco Delgado, head of the regional Fire Department, told El Pais.

Little Julen Jimenez has tragically been stuck underground since January 13, after falling down the 107-metre hole during a family picnic in Totalan.

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