Boy Buried By Avalanche In French Alps Found Alive 40 Minutes Later In ‘Miracle’ Rescue

Those buried in an avalanche are not known to live longer than 15 minutes.

Person skiing down snowy hill
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Those buried in an avalanche are not known to live longer than 15 minutes.

A 12-year-old boy survived being buried under snow for a miraculous 40 minutes, France 24 is reporting. The boy was skiing near the La Plagne ski resort in the French Alps with seven other skiers, his father among them, on Wednesday, December 26, when an avalanche occurred. He is said to have been dragged at least 100 meters (110 yards). Rescue workers were immediately sent to the location of the avalanche in a helicopter in an effort to save the boy. The helicopter had to fly at 2,400 meters (7,875 feet) altitude. Eventually, he was discovered alive by a sniffer dog that was aiding in the search.

The rescuers are considering the boy’s survival a “miracle,” as most people aren’t able to survive being buried in snow for longer than 15 minutes. Adding to the miracle was that the boy was not even wearing an avalanche detector, which has been known to save lives in the past. According to REI, many skiers now wear avalanche transceivers that can track where a person is if they are lost beneath the snow. The faster a person is found in an avalanche, the higher chance they have to survive. Most avalanche victims die due to asphyxiation. The boy only survived due to his airways not being blocked by snow.

“A pocket of air had formed underneath the snow,” an unknown source shared with Metro. “The boy was alive and conscious. It was a miracle escape.”

“We can call it a miracle,” said Captain Patrice Ribes. “A day after Christmas, there was another gift in store.”

A total of 118 people have been swept away by fallen snow this skiing season, resulting in 36 deaths. However, the boy in this instance only suffered a broken leg. According to Metro, the boy was slightly ahead of the others when skiing and was therefore the only one caught up in the avalanche. Authorities were notified about the missing boy, who is reportedly from London, at around 1:50 p.m. local time. The boy’s group was said to be skiing off-piste, even though they did not have the proper equipment for it.

Metro also shared that the rescue team was headed by Raphael Chovin, and that his Belgian Malinois shepherd dog named Getro is to thank for discovering the boy within the snow. Getro was said to “sniff the boy out” around 2:53 p.m. The boy was immediately taken to the hospital, where he is said to be “recovering well.”