London schoolboy rescued after being buried alive by avalanche in ski resort
28th December 2018

A London schoolboy spent almost an hour buried under an avalanche in the Alps before he was rescued alive thanks to a rescue dog.

The unnamed 12-year-old, who lives in London, defied the odds to survive because his life expectancy surrounded by thick snow and ice was just 15 minutes.

The boy escaped with a broken leg following the drama close to the French resort of La Plagne, which is hugely popular with British holidaymakers at this time of year.

The alert was raised at 1.50pm, and a mountain rescue team arrived less than 30 minutes later by helicopter with Belgian Malinois shepherd dogs.

Even though he was in a group of seven skiing on a closed black run, none of the group had any off-piste equipment, the police said.

The rescue operation was carried out by gendarme Raphael Chovin and Getro, his Malinois dog.

At 2.53pm that Getro ‘sniffed the boy out’, and Mr Chovin immediately started digging.

Referring to Mr Chovin and Getro, a gendarmerie spokesman said in a statement: ‘Congratulations to this pair. Finding a living person without an avalanche detector after 15 minutes in the snow is a miracle!’

The boy was airlifted to hospital in Grenoble where, despite a broken leg, he was said to be ‘recovering well’ today.

He is understood to be from a French family, who are based in London, said the source.

They were enjoying the Christmas holidays in Champagny-en-Vanoise when the accident happened.

A source involved in the rescue said: "The boy was swept away in the early afternoon on Wednesday.

"The victim was in a group of seven skiing on a closed black run. None of them had any off-piste equipment.

"They triggered an avalanche that was 500 meters [1640 feet] wide and 800 meters [2624] long. It dragged the boy for 400 meters [1312 feet] before burying him.

"A pocket of air had formed underneath the snow. The boy was alive and conscious. It was a miracle escape."

Interior minister Christophe Castaner tweeted his congratulations to Raphael Chovin and his dog Getro.

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