Incredible moment starving baby was rescued from abandoned building a week after Laos dam collapse
- Michael Alfaro, 33, from Illinois, volunteered to held save lives in Laos flooding
- It was more than a week after the flood when he found a baby alone in a village
- Michael carried the almost-dead infant half a mile to get medical attention
- Baby boy was placed on two IV drips and is now ‘doing well’, doctors say
This is the incredible moment a hero rescuer saved a starving baby more than a week after the Laos dam tragedy.
Father-of-four Michael Alfaro, 33, volunteered to travel to Attapeu province after hundreds were killed and thousands left homeless in flash floods that swamped the area on July 22.
Former U.S. Marine Michael, from Plainfield, Illinois, was surveying a village that human traffickers were allegedly targeting when he found the ‘almost dead’ baby boy on July 31.
Michael Alfaro, 33, a former US marine from Illinois, volunteered to help rescuers in Laos after the flooding there and helped to save this baby boy
Mr Alfaro was searching a village that was being targeted by people smugglers when he found the naked baby on the verge of death a week after the flood
The youngster was starving, dehydrated, naked and crying in an abandoned building in the Sanamxai district of the province.
Michael said the tot was ‘nearly unconscious’ and his ‘eyes rolled back’ when he tried to rouse him.
Michael – who is working as an independent volunteer – carried the baby alone in sweltering heat for more than 1km to the nearest doctor’s tent where the infant was treated with two emergency IV drips.
Michael, who served in the infantry and then artillery regiments, said: ‘This was a miracle. I was just in the right place at the right time.
‘A few hours longer and the baby may not have survived.
‘I checked on him after a couple of hours and he’s doing well. He’s going to be fine.’
The flood tragedy unfolded on July 22 when a wall at the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy dam collapsed after heavy monsoonal rains, sending millions of tonnes of water downstream through Sanamxay District in the southernmost Attapeu province and into neighbouring Cambodia.
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The floodwaters wiped out entire villages – washing away roads, bridges and homes, and swamping crops and irrigation systems.
Thousands of people are now taking shelter in rescue camps while many more remain stranded or dead in their villages.
Michael said that estimates on the ground are that at least 1,000 people are dead or missing – and that the baby he rescued was at risk of being snatched by traffickers, which he says his team and Chinese authorities have been alerted to.
Describing the rescue, he said: ‘I had joined with Chinese rescue teams and were told about an area that human traffickers and kidnapper were targeting. I went there to scan the surroundings.
‘I saw what looked like an empty building and wasn’t expecting to see people inside. I thought it was best to check and there was the baby on the ground in a blanket.
‘He was very weak, he had a fever of about 38 degrees. He was malnourished, dehydrated and he hadn’t eaten for three or four days.
Mr Alfaro, himself a father-of-four, carried the boy for more than half a mile to get medical attention. He is now expected to make a full recovery
Laos was badly affected by flash flooding after the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy dam collapsed, sending millions of gallons of water rushing downstream
‘His mother was also in the same building in a different place. She was weak and hadn’t eaten and the baby’s older brother and sister were with her. But the baby had been left alone away from them.’
Michael said that the baby’s mother had been sheltering in the abandoned building with her three children.
Tragically, the woman’s husband and father of the children is believed to have died in the floods.
But Michael said mother has repeatedly insisted to volunteers that she is ‘waiting for her husband to come home’ as she sits in vain for him.
Michael said that after rescuing the baby, he needed to find urgent treatment and walked for more than 1km to a Korean hospital tent where two IV drips were administered.
He added: ‘The baby has recovered and he is healthy. But there are a lot of children out there still who have been separated form there parents.’
Michael said that estimates seen in the media of 20 to 30 people dead are ‘way off the mark’ and be believes that from working with data on the ground collected by Chinese authorities, many as 1,000 people could be dead.
He added: ‘The situation here is really bad. It’s worse than you are seeing. There are at least one thousand people dead or missing. The land is treacherous to negotiate, it’s like quicksand, so any survivors from villages are stranded. In some places you stand in it and you sink, it’s just think mud.
‘We think that there are currently between two hundred and five hundred orphans in different refugee camps who are never likely to be re-united with their families, even if their parents have actually survived.
‘We have a situation where human traffickers are targeting children. Monks are also just taking orphans with them to join temples.
‘You add to that the physical conditions of the ground and it is a humanitarian disaster. Survivors are not able to walk through the flooded areas and they are starving to death.
‘There’s a big shortage of baby food for the children and many are being treated with IV drips.
‘I volunteered to come here because there are children that need help. Countries have to ignore the politics and bureaucracy and provide help.’
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