A 10-month-old baby boy, above, (Photo credit: Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations) was pulled alive from the rubble of a ten-storey apartment block some 35 hours after it partly collapsed following a gas explosion on Monday night in the Russian city of Magnitogorsk, local reports say.
The miracle boy, Vanya Fokin, survived because he was wrapped up warmly in a cradle. He is in a serious condition but slowly recovering.
Fokin’s cry from underneath the debris alerted rescuers during the ‘minute of silence’ when they halted work to hear potential survivors, governor of Chelyabinsk Region, Boris Dubrovsky, said.
The rescue team immediately starting digging, pulled Fokin hurt but alive from a pile of mangled concrete and steel and rushed him to the nearest hospital where he was treated for trauma, broken bones, and frostbite.
Fokin’s father Evgeniy said he was lucky to be alive as he was at work on his night shift. His bed was destroyed in the blast.
Fokin’s mother, Olga, managed to escape with his older brother. She knew the family alone would not be able to extricate Fokin from the rubble.
Evgeniy finally took the rescuers to the spot where Vanya was lying trapped under the rubble. After initial treatment at the local hospital, Fokin was airlifted to a children’s hospital in Moscow early on Wednesday.
Rescuers have so far recovered 37 bodies. Some residents of the old housing block are still missing amid fears they may be lying under the rubble in sub-zero temperatures.
Rescuers continued their work at night by using heat cannons in the building to keep the air warm and a searchlight to facilitate their search. Only six survivors have been found, including Fokin and his mother.
President Vladimir Putin hailed the strength of character of Russians to think of the dead and wounded when the country was about to ring in the New Year.
Dubrovsky declared a day of mourning on January 2, with flags lowered and all events cancelled. Investigators have launched a criminal investigation into the building collapse.