A three-year-old girl has been plucked to safety after surviving for a remarkable 11 days and nights lost in a Siberian forest infested with bears and wolves.
Rescuers say Karina Chikitova was saved by her puppy who kept her warm for more than a week before leaving her to return home to summon help.
"The girl aged three years and seven months survived by eating wild berries and drinking river water in territory roamed by wild bears and wolves," reported The Siberian Times.
Karina Chikitova was saved by her puppy after being lost for 11 days
Rescuers searching for her are believed to have confronted a bear, highlighting the extraordinary danger she faced.
Yet the little girl's injuries were limited to mosquito bites and scratches to her feet.
Karina wandered away from her home in a remote village, accompanied by her puppy, whose name has not been revealed despite its heroism.
She made herself beds in the long grasses, which are common in the south-west of the Sakha Republic - Russia's largest region - in summer.
Volunteers gather during the search
However, the tall grasses made it impossible for search helicopters and drones to spot Karina who wore only a red undershirt and purple stockings when she was found.
Sakha is also Siberia's coldest region in winter but at this time of year the nighttime temperatures were slightly above zero, around 6C.
Karina's mother believed that her daughter had accompanied her father Rodion when he left on a trip on 27 July to a distant village.
In fact, the man did not realise his daughter had followed him with her puppy and she became lost in the forest.
Experts say her chances of survival for such a long period were minimal.
Authorities spent days searching for the girl in Siberia's 'taiga' forest
It was only four days after she had gone when her mother could contact Rodion by phone that she realised to her horror that their daughter was lost and a massive search was launched.
Initially, Karina's family and the rescue teams were distraught when the dog returned to the girl's village of Olom in Olyokminsky district, some nine days after Karina had gone missing.
In fact the animal's instinct to seek help was vital to saving Karina.
"Two days before we found Karina her puppy came back home," said Afanasiy Nikolayev, spokesman for the Sakha Republic Rescue Service.
"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.
"If she was to hug her puppy, we thought, this would have given her a chance to stay warm during nights and survive.
Karina was found huddled in tall grasses
"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 hopes. Our hearts truly and deeply sank."
But the dog guided the rescuers to the stranded girl.
"It was Karina's puppy that helped the adults find the girl," said a report by NTV news.
"When it came back home two days ago her family had lost hope, thinking this definitely meant Karina had no chance.
"But then it was the puppy that showed rescuers the way to Karina, and in the morning she was found."
The television report said Karina was conscious and appeared surprisingly well.
"She was given food and drinks, and then with her mother she was first sent to the district hospital and then to Yakutsk, the regional capital.
The little girl weighed barely ten kilograms when she was found
"She doesn't want to speak about the time she spent in taiga (forest), or not yet. The only thing she said that she was eating berries and drank water from rivers."
Nikolayev said that the rescuers guided by the dog spotted traces of her bare feet - she had lost her shoes - and this helped them find her.
"We began searches, thinking that if she had lost her shoes she would try and stay away from the deep forest, because there are a lot of sharp sticks there," he said.
Suddenly with the dog's help, "we saw Karina siting in the grass", he said.
"We rushed to her, got her a little tea and grabbed her to run back to the car and doctors."
Nikolayev said: "I carried Karina myself to the car, and she was light as a bird. She weighed hardly ten kilograms - but amazingly she was fully conscious."
Ekaterina Andreeva, a psychologist with the rescue team, said: "We can say that the girl's mind was not hurt. She is talking, she reacts normally to everything around her.
"She recalls what happened to her."
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