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S.Africa mom, toddler survive 2 km sewer plunge

Written by: Staff

JOHANNESBURG, Apr 4: A South African mother and her 19-month-old baby survived after being swept 2 km down a sewer pipe, emerging shaken but unharmed, officials said.

Francois Oelose and her family were picnicking near Pretoria on Sunday when baby Latif fell down an open manhole. Oelose jumped in to rescue her child, and soon both were carried away by the flow of effluent.

''It was dark, and I held on to him very tightly,'' Oelose told the Beeld newspaper.

Paramedic Kobus Gericke of Netcare 911 said rescuers inflated rubber gloves and dropped them through various manholes along the route in an attempt to assess how far the pair had travelled.

They were eventually fished out about 2 km from where the baby had first fallen into the tunnel.

''She was really tired when I got to her, and completely lost,'' Gericke told Reuters.

Open manholes are a common danger in South Africa, where sewer covers are frequently stolen for re-sale as scrap metal.

In 2004, a three-year-old boy disappeared down an uncovered Johannesburg manhole, prompting a huge hunt by rescue personnel.

His body was later discovered at a waste treatment plant some 10 km away.


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