Saturday 3 December 2016

Girl (5) pulled from rubble as avalanche buries home

Florent Bajrami in Restelica, Kosovo

Published 13/02/2012 | 05:00

A visitor looks at an elephant made of snow and ice at the Central Botanical Garden during winter in Minsk, February 12, 2012. REUTERS/Julia Darashkevich (BELARUS - Tags: SOCIETY ENVIRONMENT)
A visitor looks at an elephant made of snow and ice at the Central Botanical Garden during winter in Minsk, February 12, 2012. REUTERS/Julia Darashkevich (BELARUS - Tags: SOCIETY ENVIRONMENT)

A FIVE-year-old girl has been found alive in the rubble of a house flattened by a massive avalanche that killed at least nine people -- including her parents -- in a remote mountain village in southern Kosovo.

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The girl was discovered in the ruins -- buried under 10 metres of snow -- yesterday when officers heard her voice and the ringing of a mobile phone.

At least nine people died in the avalanche that hit the village of Restelica near Kosovo's border with Macedonia and Albania at the weekend, destroying seven houses of which only two were inhabited.

The rescuers were looking for one more person.

The girl, identified only by her last name, Reka, was recovering in hospital in the nearby town of Prizren, where doctors said her life was not in danger.

She had been buried for more than 10 hours.

NATO peacekeepers, deployed in Kosovo to end the armed conflict between Serbs and Kosovo Albanians in 1999, had been called in to help local authorities in the rescue operation, but were unable to land a helicopter in the blizzard.

Rescuers -- mostly local villagers using shovels -- initially dug out the bodies of a married couple and their 17-year-old son. Six more bodies were discovered during the overnight excavation.

Emergency

The cold snap in Europe, which began in late January, has killed hundreds of people, most of them homeless.

Heavy snow has been blanketing the Balkans for more than two weeks, with Restelica and roads in the region blocked for several days.

In neighbouring Montenegro -- where the government has introduced a state of emergency because of the big freeze -- special police forces yesterday managed to reach about 50 train passengers stranded after tracks were blocked by avalanches for two days.

Irish Independent

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