A 10-year-old girl managed to survive 18 hours overnight in a freezing winter blizzard in Russia. Her survival secret: A stray dog.
After going missing from school in Uglegorsk, Russia, and getting caught in the freezing cold snow storm, the girl clung to the warmth of the stray animal before a pack of authorities and volunteers could target her, Russian newspapers Komsomolskaya Pravda and The Siberian Times reported.
The girl, who was not named by authorities, went missing around 1 p.m. on Jan. 13 before her mother phoned into police, according to local reports. Because the blizzard had led to up to 2 feet of snow drifts – leading to poor visibility – a pack of authorities and volunteers collaborated in scouring the town to try to find the girl.
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Finally, a tip came from a local person who recalled seeing a girl playing with a stray dog near a shelter, per Komsomolskaya Pravda. The girl, who was appropriately dressed for the cold, was found under a low balcony hugging the animal as both sat on a mattress. The girl said she was "hugging a fluffy dog for warmth."
"The fact that the girl remained alive in such weather really is a miracle," volunteer searcher Anatoly Ivanov, told the newspaper.
"We were looking all night, nothing was visible at all, our hands in mittens were so cold, it was difficult to straighten our fingers. By morning, we started to think she would not be found alive. How can you survive such a nightmare outside?"
According to Russian media outlet, ASTV, the girl was taken to a local hospital but able to return home the same day.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Girl survives blizzard in Russia by hugging a stray dog for 18 hours