Australia: Anthony ‘AJ’ Elfalak found alive in woods after three days

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A toddler wearing just a t-shirt and nappy survived for three days by himself in remote Australian woodlands.

Anthony ‘AJ’ Elfalak had last been seen at his family’s cottage in a tiny rural village 90 miles north of Sydney.

Hundreds were involved in a frantic search over the weekend with emergency services increasingly fearing the worst.

But there was pure elation when the boy, who has autism and is non-verbal, was spotted by a helicopter sitting by a creek and drinking water.

He was only around 470m from the Putty property when he was found and it remains unclear how he went missing.

Remarkably, he was in a relatively good physical condition despite suffering ant bites, nappy rash and some cuts and scrapes, according to his dad Anthony Elfalak.

He told reporters: ‘It’s a miracle. He’s just clinging to mum. As soon as he heard his mum, he opened his eyes and looked at her and fell asleep.’

Hundreds joined the boy’s parents to search through the remote bushland through the night (Picture: AP)
The three-year-old was seen to by paramedics but remarkably had no serious injuries (Picture: AP)
His delighted brothers were among the hundreds of people who chipped in with the search effort (Picture: AAP)

AJ was found in an area that had been searched previously but officers assume he spent the entire time in the woodland.

While temperatures are warm at this time of year during the day, he would have endured cold at around 6C during the night.

AJ was kneeling in the creek when a State Emergency Service officer reached him and placed a hand on the boy’s shoulder.

Simon Merrick, the individual who made contact with him, told colleagues he ‘turned towards him with a massive smile on his face that he will not forget’.

The paramedic who examined the child, Gerry Pyke, described him as a ‘little survivor’.

Police used aerial search techniques in a bid to find the missing boy (Picture: AP)
When he was eventually spotted, he was kneeling by a small river and drinking water with his hands (Picture: AP)

He said: ‘Little AJ’s condition was quite remarkable. He was very, very thankful. I could see that in his eyes.’

AJ reportedly slept in an ambulance after he was reunited with his parents, then woke up hungry.

Mr Pyke added: ‘He got stuck into about three slices of pizza and a banana so he’s pretty good.’

Police are continuing to investigate the circumstances around the disappearance. 

His family publicly claimed they thought he had been kidnapped while he was still missing.

A vehicle was seized and a nearby abandoned property was searched as part of the investigation, according to Australian outlet Nine News.

Family friend and AJ’s godfather Alan Hashem also claimed to reporters CCTV footage from around the time of the disappearance was missing.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

For more stories like this, check our news page.

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