A terrified baby, starving after days without food following a dam collapse in southern Laos, has been brought to safety by rescuers.
Footage of the dramatic recovery of the four-month-old boy, along with 14 others, was released on Friday and was viewed close to half a million times within hours of being posted online.
The survivors were stranded by flood waters after they fled up a hill on Monday as the under construction Xe-Namnoy dam broke under heavy rain, leaving several villages devastated by flash floods.
Rescuers were said to have waded several kilometres through rushing water containing uprooted trees and debris to rescue the group.
It has since been revealed that the rescue team that helped free the Wild Boars football team and their coach from a cave in northern Thailand earlier this month after a 17-day ordeal, are involved in the Laos mission.
Kengkard Bongkawong, one of the rescuers, who is from Thailand’s north east, told AFP of the baby boy’s rescue: “The boy is four months old. He didn’t have fever but he was crying, maybe because of the cold weather.
“The baby was crying and looks terrified. Actually they were (all) still terrified of the rushing water.”
The death toll from Monday’s collapse is currently 27, but it has both been revised down and questioned by locals and aid agencies who believe it could be much higher.
Initial reports had suggested the death toll could climb to several hundred, and on Wednesday the Vientiane Times reported some 3,000 people were still waiting to be rescued from swirling floodwaters, many of them on trees and the rooftops of submerged houses.
Official media reported on Thursday that 27 people were confirmed dead, 131 were missing and all those who were stranded had been plucked to safety.
However, that was disputed on Friday by the governor of Attapeu province, Leth Xiayaphone ,who revised the toll down to five, saying the larger number previously given was “unconfirmed information”.
Secretive Communist authorities in Laos are unused to international scrutiny, AFP reported, and have blocked access to foreign media, complicating efforts to establish the exact death toll in the remote area.