MOSCOW (AP) – Laboring through sub-freezing temperatures, Russian rescue workers were digging into a sprawling heap of jagged rubble from a collapsed apartment building when one heard the faintest sound.
It was the sound of life.
On Tuesday, to everyone’s delight and surprise, they pulled a baby boy out of the rubble alive, nearly 36 hours after the disaster that blew apart his home. His father called it “a New Year’s miracle.”
The building collapse in the Russian city of Magnitogorsk before dawn Monday has killed at least nine people so far, and officials say 32 people who lived in the building have still not been accounted for.
The collapse followed an explosion that was believed to have been caused by a gas leak.
The boy, an 11-month-old named Ivan Fokin, was in extremely serious condition, officials said, with fractures, a head injury and suffering from hypothermia and frostbite after his ordeal in temperatures around minus 4 degrees.
He was flown to Moscow late Tuesday in a desperate attempt to save his life. He was in stable condition on arrival in the capital, the head of the national public health institute, Vladimir Uiba, was quoted as telling state news agency Tass.
The father was at work when his wife phoned to say the building had collapsed. She escaped the rubble with a 3-year-old son, Russian news reports said.
Russian officials say the odds of finding anyone else alive in the debris look increasingly slim, given the extreme weather.