(By Siobhán O’Grady, Washington Post)

Ivan Fokin had been missing for about 36 hours in temperatures well below freezing when rescuers digging through a pile of rubble where a Russian apartment building once stood pulled him out Tuesday…

In what his father and government officials have called a “New Year’s miracle,” the 11-month-old boy was alive.

Ivan disappeared in the aftermath of the building’s collapse early Monday in the city of Magnitogorsk. His mother, Olga Fokina, told Russian TV that she and her 3-year-old son escaped but that the baby, who was asleep in his crib, went missing in the chaos. His father was at work at the time, she said.

“I and the older one fell down and quickly got out and I didn’t know what happened to the baby bed afterward,” Fokina said.

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The next day, as they shifted through debris, rescue workers heard a soft noise and shut off their equipment to listen more closely. It sounded like a baby’s cries. “They stopped all the equipment. He began to cry louder,” one of the rescue workers told a Russian news station, The Associated Press reported.

This photo provided by the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry taken from tv footage shows Emergency Situations employees save a 10 month old baby at the scene of a collapsed section of an apartment building, in Magnitigorsk, a city of 400,000 about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) southeast of Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. Rescue crews on Tuesday temporarily halted their search through the rubble in the city of Magnitogorsk while workers tried to remove or stabilize sections of the building in danger of collapse. (Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations photo via AP)

With the help of a specially trained dog, they confirmed their suspicions and began to dig toward the sound

Soon, they had pulled Ivan out of the rubble. Footage of the infant wrapped in a blanket, clutching onto a rescue worker, has gone viral since his rescue.

The AP reported that Ivan was flown to Moscow for medical treatment for multiple fractures and a head injury. He was also being treated for hypothermia and frostbite, having spent 36 hours in freezing conditions under rubble. The temperature in the city was about minus 4 degrees Fahrenheit.

The cause of the building’s collapse remains unclear, although a gas leak is suspected. At least 21 people died. The BBC quoted Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova as saying Wednesday that the baby was recovering and that his blood circulation was improving.

President Vladimir Putin visited the scene of the explosion and met some survivors, but around 20 people remain missing. Three others were killed in another explosion close to the apartment block on Tuesday. The vehicle in which they were traveling reportedly was carrying gas canisters.

“It is in the character of our people, despite New Year’s festivities, to remember to think of the dead and wounded at this moment,” Putin said.

Author: ANA Newswire