Australia: Missing 3-year-old found alive after days in woodland

World Monday 06/September/2021 18:13 PM
By: DW
Australia: Missing 3-year-old found alive after days in woodland
Three-year-old AJ Elfalak is carried by a paramedic into an ambulance after being found alive on the family property near Putty, north west of Sydney.

Sydney: A search and rescue team in Australia managed to find a missing 3-year-old boy alive and well on Monday.

Anthony "AJ" Elfalak was found wearing a sweater and diaper in a creek bed, three days after going missing in woodland.

The toddler had disappeared from his home in a remote area near a village called Putty, 110 kilometers (roughly 70 miles) northwest of Sydney.

Major rescue effort launched

Shortly after his disappearance authorities launched a large-scale rescue operation involving multiple arms of the police and hundreds of volunteers.

A helicopter crew managed to spot him in a shallow creek, just 470 meters (514 yards) from his home.

Footage from the moment police managed to spot the little boy shows him seated in water and drinking from his cupped hands.

A State Emergency Service (SES) officer went to little AJ and put a hand on his shoulder, according to SES Chief Inspector Simon Merrick. The officer "stated that he [AJ] turned towards him with a massive smile on his face that he will not forget,'' Merrick said.

Parents relieved by 'miracle'

"It's a miracle," his father, Anthony Elfalak said. "He's just clinging to his mum. As soon as he heard his mum, he opened his eyes and looked at her and fell asleep," his dad said.

"He's got some nappy rash, he's been bitten by ants, he's fallen over, but he's alive," his father told local media.

Police Superintendent Tracy Chapman believes access to a water source was a critical factor.

"It's a good news story," Chapman told reporters, saying his proximity to water "is potentially what gave him that opportunity to survive."

AJ was said to be in good condition and was taken to hospital for observation.