5-Year-Old Avalanche Survivor Released From Hospital

By Kelly Cobiella

Feb 13, 2012 1:09pm

A 5-year old girl rescued from an avalanche in Restelica, Kosovo, Saturday that killed her parents, her 2-year-old brother, her paternal grandparents, an aunt and uncle has been released from the hospital.  The girl had been buried under 33 feet of snow for 10 hours. 

A member of the search and rescue team said Amsela Reka was found in the arms of her mother in the snow-covered rubble of her home after hearing her voice and the ringing of a cell phone. Amsela’s mother was holding her 2-year-old brother. Both were dead.

The rescuers cheered and threw their arms in the air when Amsela was pulled from the snow dazed  but alive and not seriously harmed.

The family was home when a mountain of snow crashed onto its remote village Saturday morning, covering 22 houses.  The village had been cut off from much of  the outside world after a month of snow. It took rescuers two and a half hours to reach Restelica, and another hour to dig to the part of town hit by the avalanche.     

 Villagers had already been frantically digging through the 33 feet of snow, trying to reach any possible survivors.   ”Luckily, only two houses were inhabited at the time.  We found nine bodies,”  Kosovo security spokesman Osman Qerreti told the Associated Press. A married couple and their 17-year-old son were among the dead.

Amsela, the sole survivor,  was wrapped in blankets and rushed to a hospital. Doctors told ABC News she had second-degree cold burns on both hands. As Amsela was leaving the hospital Monday, a funeral was under way for her parents, grandparents, aunt and brother in their village of Restelica.

Searchers continued to look for the body of Amsela’s  19-year-old uncle, but more snowfall and the possibility of another avalanche impeded search efforts.  

 Hundreds of people have died during Europe’s two-week-long deep freeze.  The Balkans have been  blanketed in snow, and many roads are impassable, cutting off remote villages from emergency services and supplies. 

ABC News’ Dragana Jovanovic contributed to this story.

 

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