A 10-month old boy was rescued alive after spending more than 35 hours in subzero conditions buried under the rubble of a collapsed building in Russia.
Emergency crews temporarily suspended their search for survivors Tuesday amid fears that remnants of the 10-story apartment block were too unstable following the deadly New Year’s Eve gas explosion.
But a short time later rescuers heard a child crying and rushed to save it, regional Gov. Boris Dubrovsky said on his official Telegram account. Dubrovsky added that the baby managed to stay alive because he was in a crib.
Russian health ministry says the baby is in an “extremely serious” condition. He suffered severe frostbite and a head injury as well as multiple leg fractures and hypothermia.
Emergency officials say the boy’s mother is alive. The two have been reunited at a hospital where the boy was taken after the rescue.
The ministry says he will be flown out to Moscow for further treatment.
One of the rescuers who helped get the baby out said they had to cut through a lot of debris to get to him.
“We cut through some linoleum and I saw the baby’s face,” he said, adding that the boy likely survived because his body was pushed against a baby mattress and there was an airflow next to where his head was trapped.
Overnight, powerful heaters were deployed to warm the rubble as rescuers raced against time to find dozens of people who remained missing after the explosion in the city of Magnitogorsk.
Seven people have been confirmed dead but authorities said as many as 37 people could still be trapped in what’s left of the building. Most of its inhabitants were sleeping at the time of Monday’s blast.
Earlier, officials acknowledged that the hopes of finding survivors were dwindling as temperatures dropped to minus 11 degrees overnight.
“The chances are reducing with time,” Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova said when pressed by reporters on the likelihood of finding survivors. “But incredible stories do happen.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin flew into Magnitogorsk on Monday, visiting the scene and a hospital where injured residents were taken.
Putin spoke with a 13-year old boy who sustained head injuries and frostbite after spending an hour under the rubble before being rescued.
Another survivor, Yulia Gavrilova, recalled the harrowing moments of the collapse.
“We were sleeping and I woke up feeling I was falling down,” she said. “I first thought I was dreaming it. Then I woke up for real and realized that I was standing outside, the wall was not there any longer. My mother was screaming that she couldn’t breathe and my son was screaming from another corner.”
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