'Miraculous': Police describe rescue of little girl who survived the deep, dark Czech forest

The eight-year-old was lost for two days in a densely wooded area; authorities are advising hikers to use caution when setting out.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff
Published on 13.10.2021 11:39 (updated on 13.10.2021)

The Bohemian National Forest Park in Šumava contains some of the Czech Republic’s most dangerous forests. Terrain is treacherous, and as temperatures fall below freezing at night, wolves and other wild animals are known to roam freely through the dark.

When an eight-year-old German girl went missing on Sunday while hiking in the Čerchov mountain area with her parents, brother and cousin at the Czech border, rescue services feared the worst. Her discovery yesterday in the deepest, darkest parts of the woodland is now being described as a miracle.

More than 800 people, including elite forest rescue crews as well as sniffer dogs and drones, took part in the search after the girl went missing with her brother and cousin. When the other two children made their way to safety, authorities became concerned that a “person of interest” may have been involved in their sisters’ disappearance.

Yet when the girl was found by forest workers sent deep into the woodland, she was alone and responsive, despite suffering from severe hypothermia. Police had earlier warned local residents not to set out alone in search of the girl or they, too, could become lost in the hazardous forest.

“We ask you not to try to climb the mountain, but to stay down in the streets and in the surrounding areas and keep your eyes open, so as not to put yourselves in danger here,” a spokesperson for Germany’s Upper Palatinate police said during the rescue mission. “We do not want to have to rescue other people from the mountain.”

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As some began to give up hope as the search wore on, rescuers cheered and clapped with relief when the girl was found. Her parents are now with her in hospital, while the German Ambassador to the Czech Republic tweeted his thanks for “excellent cooperation” with the Czech police during the search efforts.

Hiking in the wild can be dangerous, especially for children. Experts advise taking precautions such as packing sufficient food in case you get lost, checking the weather forecast in advance, and making sure all hikers have a fully charged mobile phone.

If you do get lost, the first piece of advice is to stay calm. Try to work out where you are, and if possible, attempt to retrace your steps until you find a location you recognize. If you still cannot find your way, check to see if you have phone signal, and if you do, call the authorities. If not, whistle rather than shout for help (if you can). Whistling is more audible to people in the surrounding area and it saves your voice.

As the diagnosis of the little girl lost near the German border shows, hypothermia is a real risk if you are lost overnight. Look for a place to shelter out of the wind and rain, and avoid the bottom of valleys, as cold air descends and warmer air rises. And importantly, don’t wait until it’s already dark to find your place of shelter; get yourself prepared as well as possible while there is still daylight.

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