Home News ‘New Year Miracle’ in Russia as Baby Is Pulled From Rubble – The New York Times

‘New Year Miracle’ in Russia as Baby Is Pulled From Rubble – The New York Times

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‘New Year Miracle’ in Russia as Baby Is Pulled From Rubble

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A still from a video showing an employee from the Emergencies Ministry carrying a baby from a partly collapsed apartment building in Magnitogorsk, Russia, on Tuesday.CreditCreditEmergencies Ministry, via Associated Press
  • Jan. 1, 2019

MOSCOW — Rescue workers pulled a 10-month-old baby boy alive from a partly collapsed apartment building in central Russia on Tuesday, calling him a “New Year miracle” after he survived in the rubble for more than 35 hours in freezing temperatures.

An explosion believed to have been caused by a gas leak destroyed at least 25 apartments in the 10-story building in the city of Magnitogorsk early on Monday, killing at least nine people, and dozens of other residents remained missing.

The rescue operation, which continued through the night, has been slowed by concerns that other parts of the building might come tumbling down, and the instability delayed the retrieval of one victim until Tuesday evening. The governor’s office said that the overhanging parts of a wall that threatened rescuers have been removed.

The temperature in Magnitogorsk, an industrial city at the southern end of the Urals more than 1,000 miles east of Moscow, hovers just over 1 degree Fahrenheit (minus 17 degrees Celsius) in the daytime and minus 20 Fahrenheit or lower overnight.

Five survivors, including an injured child, were pulled out alive on Monday.

The baby boy, identified as Vanya, a Russian nickname for Ivan, was found after a rescuer heard him cry. Rescue dogs could not locate him, but workers organized a large team effort to search the area and found him, according to news agency reports.

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Rescue workers at an apartment building in Magnitogorsk, Russia, where an explosion thought to be caused by a gas leak destroyed dozens of apartments on Monday, killing at least nine people.CreditMaxim Shmakov/Associated Press

Describing the scene in dramatic detail, a statement from the Emergencies Ministry said, “Hundreds of people were awaiting the miraculous moment when the injured child emerged from under the rubble.” When it happened, “Tears welled in the eyes of the hard-boiled rescuers.”

Footage from the scene showed rescuers pulling out the boy, wearing a yellow T-shirt and fuchsia socks and covered in a thin layer of white dust. The ministry called the rescue “A New Year miracle.”

Interviewed at the scene by Russian television stations, Petr Gritsenko, the rescuer who first heard the boy cry, said that he saw parts of a crib and heard a faint voice. The child’s head was invisible under various layers of rubble, including parts of a door as well as linoleum flooring.

The manner in which he was lying inside a cradle — swaddled in warm bedding, with his head higher than his legs, and a fleece blanket covering his feet, news reports said — most likely helped him survive.

The boy was rushed to a hospital and was being airlifted to Moscow in grave condition for treatment for a serious head injury and frostbite, the reports said. His mother, who survived the accident, was reunited with her son at the hospital.

“On that day, I was at work — if I were at home, I wouldn’t be alive anymore,” said the boy’s father, Yevgeny Fokin, who spoke to local journalists, and said he had been filling in for another person. “I came to the scene today and showed rescuers the approximate place where to search. I should have done this yesterday, but I wasn’t let through.”

The explosion happened early on Monday, a public holiday in Russia, when many residents were asleep. There have been several similar blasts around the country in recent years, with gas explosions linked to poor infrastructure and erratic safety regulations.

Follow Neil MacFarquhar on Twitter: @NeilMacFarquhar.

Oleg Matsnev contributed reporting.

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