A little girl lost in a remote region of Siberia inhabited by bears and wolves survived 11 days in the subarctic forest by eating wild berries and drinking river water before her dog finally left her side to summon help, leading rescuers to her location.
Her mother believed Karina and her dog had followed her father, Rodion, who had left to go to his native village. Because there were no phone connections, it wasn't until four days later that the family discovered Karina was missing, prompting a massive search.
Sakha is said to be Siberia's coldest region in winter, but this time of year overnight temperatures were about 42 degrees Fahrenheit, though some parts were colder. Karina hugged her dog and huddled up in the tall grass to stay warm, but that made it difficult for rescuers to spot her from helicopters and drones.
Two days before Karina was found, her dog returned to the girl's home in the village Omon in the Olyokminsky district.
"That was the moment when our hearts sank, because we thought at least with her dog Karina had chances to survive; night in Yakutia are cold and some areas have already gone into minus temperatures," Afanasiy Nikolayev, spokesman for the Sakha Republic Rescue Service, told The Siberian Times.
"If she was to hug her puppy, we thought, this would have given her a chance to stay warm during nights and survive [she wore only a tank top and purple stockings]. So when her dog came back we thought ‘that’s it’—even if she was alive, and chances were slim—now she would have definitely have lost all hope. Our hearts truly and deeply sank."
By that time, the family had lost hope.
Experts said chances of survival for such a long period were minimal. Rescuers confronted a bear during the search, highlighting the danger of the region.
Then, a miracle.
Karina's dog led the adults to the lost child, or as The Siberian Times called her, the miracle girl. With the dog's help, rescuers discovered bare-foot tracks in the dirt, which helped lead them to the girl.
"In the morning, almost right after we began searching—we only made 20 meters—we saw Karina sitting in the grass," Nikolayev said. "We rushed to her, got her a little tea and grabbed her to run back to the car and doctors.
"I carried Karina myself to the car, and she was light as a bird. She was hardly ten kilograms [22 pounds], but amazingly she was fully conscious."
This video from The Siberian News shows the rescue effort; the moment Karina was found starts around the 3:05 mark:
Karina was said to look surprisingly well. She was given food and drinks, and was taken to the hospital in Yakutsk, though she had no serious injuries, only scratches, particularly on her feet from walking long distances without shoes. Plus, she had several mosquito bites.
Truly a miraculous ending to a remarkable story.
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