MOL

Moscow

A three-year-old girl who survived a dozen days and nights alone in the Siberian wilderness has been discharged from hospital with a clean bill of health.

Karina Chikitova’s amazing rescue from thick forest where bears and wolves roam saw her story go round the world after she was plucked to safety last month. Now after five weeks undergoing checks in two Russian hospitals, she is going home to her remote village in the Sakha Republic to be reunited with Naida, the puppy who saved her life.

The dog stayed with Karina, keeping her warm in chilly night temperatures, and then after more than a week went back to her village, exhausted and hungry, to try and summon help.

‘In late July, Karina had followed her father Rodion into the taiga from their far-flung village, though he was unaware she did so. Then she got hopelessly lost, even though when was only a few kilometres from her home,’ reported The Siberian Times. Her grandmother who was looking after her was convinced her father had taken her with him to stay in a far-flung village where there was no phone contact. It took several days for her horrified mother Aitalina to discover that she was lost. A huge search began in the Sakha Republic, the largest region in Russia, only slightly smaller than India. When she was rescued - she was lying in a grassy hole - her face was covered in mosquito bites and she was desperately weak. She drank water from rivers, and ate wild berries, but was badly undernourished. Medics worked to help her regain her weight and checked she had not picked up any illnesses.

but she has been given a clean bill of health.

Her doctor at the City Children’s Hospital, in Yakutsk, Fedora Gogoleva, said: ‘We did not ask her too much about what happened. She tries to forget it. We asked only how she slept, how she feels.

‘Her appetite has improved, she gained weight and feels good. She also talked with our psychologist here.’

The doctor claimed that her Siberian upbringing, going into the forest with her grandmother to pick berries, meant she was not daunted, nor did she feel any risks. ‘The family live far away in a remote village, not in the city, and it makes its mark,’ she said. ‘She was raised close to nature. ‘Certainly she went with grandmother and parents to the forest, to gather berries. Perhaps this is why she was not afraid of the forest.

‘Karina herself is a very strong girl, has a strong-willed character. This probably helped her to survive.’ She added: ‘The girl is communicative, active, her emotions are positive. She gets along well with other children, plays with them. Especially with her new friend Gena. ‘She is quite independent, talks like an adult and we think that she is well brought up.’

Lyubov Kolesova, her occupational therapist, said: ‘She doesn’t say and remember much about this accident.  ‘She talks about how lovely her mother is and about her home. She says what she likes, which colours and animals, All her pictures are colourful. You can see she is a  talented, creative person.’

She made a picture of an elephant at the hospital’s kindergarten.  Her mother Talina said that she had been gathering hay the fields on the day Karina disappeared.  ‘Karina was being cared for by her granny,’ she said. ‘My husband left on a trip to another village and she was convinced he had taken Karina with him.’

Rescuers have revealed that while Naida came to summon help, she was little use in finding her way back to Karina.  Nor were the sniffer dogs, which are trained to find people, not dog trails.

‘The forest around Olom is full of bears,’ said rescuer Albert Semyonov, who revealed his men needed armed guards in looking for Karina.  ‘Close to the gunners we felt somehow calmer. However, the thought of bears immediately switched to another concern: somewhere in the forest was this helpless child.’

The breakthrough came when rescuers found Karina’s footprint on the bank of a river when she had gone to drink water.

Next to her print, was the paw mark of a dog. This gave rescuers hope they were in the right area, and next day found Karina.