AN investigation has been launched after an eight-year-old boy dressed in a T-shirt was found alone on a street in sub-zero temperatures in the early hours of the morning.
The boy, who was admitted to hospital, was found huddled up against a wall near a shop at Dunluce Court in the Ballymagroarty Estate in Derry city at 6.30am by a taxi driver who was collecting a fare.
The driver placed the boy in the front seat of his vehicle and turned the car heater on the shivering child before alerting the emergency services.
Andrew McCartney of the Derry Taxis firm, which employs the driver, said the man was shocked.
"He was on his way to collect a regular fare when he saw the child on his hunkers and holding his knees beside a wall. The boy was clearly very cold and shivering. The driver got a blanket and put it over the child before putting him in the front seat and turning up the car heating system.
"The driver then alerted the emergency services and within 10 minutes an ambulance and PSNI officers were at the scene and the boy was taken to Altnagelvin Hospital," he said.
Meanwhile the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children spokesman Colm Elliott said he was very concerned that a young child should be found like this during the cold spell.
"This could have been a potentially fatal incident and we are very lucky that this taxi driver acted in the manner in which he did," he said.
Local SDLP councillor Mark H Durkan said he was very distressed by the incident.