An Army engineer who risked his life to save a child hit by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan has been awarded a Queen's Commendation for Bravery.

Sapper Ryan Pavey, 24, was the lead explosive ordnance disposal searcher for a team clearing the infamous Route 611 of homemade bombs, when a civilian minibus bypassed a military cordon stopping vehicles.

The vehicle set off a large improvised explosive device (IED) killing 18 civilians outright.

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Sapper Ryan Pavey, aged 24, who has been awarded a Queens Commendation for Bravery

Five others were critically injured including a four-year-old boy whose leg was blown off.

Sapper Pavey, from Eastleigh, Hampshire, immediately moved to save the child.

He said: "I heard the explosion, and when I saw what had happened I just turned to start clearing towards the casualties.

"Your senses get heightened as obviously there is a lot going through your mind but you have to keep focused.

"You want to get there as fast as possible but you have to work safely rather than just quickly and risk further injuries."

The soldier's progress was hampered by burning fragments and metal remnants of the minibus covering the area.

Sapper Pavey, who was on his second tour of Afghanistan, admitted that the carnage was the worst he had ever seen.

"It is harder when the casualties are civilian," he said.

"When you deploy you have to ready yourself for the possibility of soldiers being injured, but seeing a child hurt is a lot harder than seeing a grown up.

"But your training takes over and you just focus on where they are injured and what you can do to help them."

The solder's citation says: "Drawing on raw courage and resolve, Pavey led the team towards the survivors, constantly adjusting his assessment of the extraordinary real threat underfoot. This demanded nerves of steel, a cool head and clear focus.

"The heavy burden of avoiding any IEDs was his alone to bear... Pavey's conduct was extraordinary, placing himself in harm's way to assist the badly wounded and traumatised survivors.

"This horrific incident represents only one of many examples of his persistent courage over six psychologically gruelling months. The demands on him have been relentless and daunting. His conduct has been humbling."