Miracle survival for Liza Grabovskaya in temperatures of minus 12C, lost for 24 hours.
'Liza could hardly speak when we found her. We called her by name, then we said 'Are you alive there?' She said 'yes'. Oksana Kudrova with German Shepherd Rising Star Britney. Picture: Khabarovsk region police
The schoolgirl was on her way home from Khabarovsk primary school N24 when she fell down an unseen hole in snow. She was pulled out almost 24 hours later thanks to the alertness of a five year old German Shepherd police dog called Rising Star Britney, and her handler Oksana Kudrova.
The accident was on 4 December and her parents only alerted police that evening after their own searches failed to locate her. Police immediately contacted parents and teachers and began a search but there were no signs of the missing girl as temperatures sunk to minus 12C.
'We know Liza is missing, it is just horrible - she is in one class with my daughter,' said one mother. 'I know she was always walking back home on her own. Her parents allowed her to do so'.
Next day's classes got underway with Liza still missing.
'Suddenly we noticed the strange behaviour of our dog. It was not quite the way the dog must react when it finds the right thing, but the dog was going round and round the same place. We came closer and saw the hole in the ground. Liza was there'. Pictures of Liza and Rising Star Britney: Khabarovsk region police
Vasily Samarin, a policeman the head of police group with a dog which found Liza, said: 'I came to my work this morning and got to know that Liza, 7, was missing. 'The commander ordered us to join the search. There were several groups, I was the head of one group, there was a trained dog in our group. We went to meet Liza's granny, and she came with us. About four streets away from their house, the dog discovered a hole in the ground, a sort of well, where we found the child. A hot water pipe was there, and I am not quite sure how this hole appeared.
'The hole had 1.5 meters in diameter, it was 1.6 meters deep. Liza was not able to climb out herself. She could hardly speak when we found her. We called her by name and she said 'yes', then we said 'Are you alive there?' She said 'yes'. We could see that she was not physically hurt, but of course we called ambulance and she was taken to hospital.'
Another rescuer explained Rising Star Britney's crucial role in the rescue. Never mind Winks, she was the good fairly to Liza.
'We walked along Liza's usual route from school to home. Suddenly we noticed the strange behaviour of our dog. It was not quite the way the dog must react when she finds the right thing, but she was going round and round the same place. We came closer and saw the hole in the ground.
'The girl was there. I don't know if the girl heard us, she did not cry for help. The hole was next to the heating pipes. I think the workers left this hole having finished some repairing, they must have properly fill it up, and probably it was somehow covered with snow and girl did not notice it, stepped on it and fell down.'
Hot water is pumped from heating plants to houses and apartment blocks in Russian cities. It is not clear that the pipe was close to Liza to keep her warm.
Alexander Firsov, deputy head of the children's hospital treating her, said: 'The girl is as well as much as she can be after such an adventure. It was cold and dark and wet, and she was terrified but her psychological state is ok. Physically she is in average condition, we expect the consequences of hypothermia in a day or two, so she will remain in hospital.'
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