‘MIRACLE’ AS BOY SURVIVES 50 MINUTES UNDER AVALANCHE
27th December 2018 | Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Last modified on December 18th, 2019
The 12-year-old was buried in an avalanche in La Plagne. He was found in an air pocket by a rescue dog. UPDATED
The boy was in a group of seven skiers and French newspapers report that the other six people in his group were members of his family or friends.
They were on a closed and unsecured black run, Rochu, on the west face of the Bellecôte in the French resort.
The boy set off the slide which carried him around 400 metres before burying him.
The avalanche was 500 metres wide and about 500 to 600 metres long.
The rescue services were alerted just before 2pm on Wednesday 26th December.
The specialist alpine patrol, the PGHM, were sent to the scene by helicopter.
The local piste patrol and staff had already begun the search but the boy could not be found.
He was not wearing an avalanche transceiver.
More than 40 people were involved in the search.
The boy was eventually located by a rescue dog under 70cm of snow.
The Gendarmerie in the Savoie region posted photographs of the dog and his handler who found the boy on social media, praising them for being the ‘heroes of the day’.
ðŸ‘ À ce super binôme, car retrouver une personne vivante sans DVA après 15 min ss la neige, relève du miracle!
Translation: To this great pair, because to find a living person without DVA (transceiver) after 15 minutes under the snow, it’s a miracle!
Interior minister Christophe Castaner tweeted his congratulations to Raphael Chovin and his dog Getro.
The La Plagne Pisteurs’ Association says he was buried for 53 minutes.
Remarkably, he was recovered alive and conscious.
He had been in an air pocket that had formed in the snow.
Generally speaking an avalanche victim will need to be found and uncovered within 15 minutes to avoid suffocating.
“It’s a miracle because he had no victim detection device,” one of the rescuers told reporters.
“The chances of survival are minuscule after 15 minutes under the snow.”
The boy was taken to hospital in Grenoble.
Reports say he suffered a broken leg.
He was on holiday with his family in Champagny-en-Vanoise, which is part of the La Plagne ski area.
This report from France Info (in French), has video footage and interviews with the rescuers:
There has been reaction to our story on the PlanetSKI Facebook page:
Wild weather in the Alps over the Christmas period has raised the risk of avalanches:
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