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Kid Avalanche Survivor Is Fine Now

March 1, 1999

VIENNA, Austria (AP) _ The 4-year-old Austrian boy who was miraculously rescued from under an avalanche has been released in perfect health, a doctor said Monday.

Alexander Walter and his mother left Sunday night to stay with his grandparents in southern Austria, said Dr. Alois Schranz, who treated the boy in a Tyolean hospital.

The child’s father, he said, went back to their hometown of Valzur _ site of one of last week’s two killer avalanches that killed a total of 38 people.

The Walters’ home was destroyed by Wednesday’s snowslide.

Alexander was saved with the help of a fearless pilot and rescuer Guenther Walser and his search dog, Arko, a 6-year-old brown Muensterlaender, a German breed that resembles a Springer spaniel.

Pilot Walter Strolz flew his helicopter to Valzur even though visibility was virtually zero.

Arko then alerted rescuers by wagging his tail and fiercely digging into the snow. After one hour and 45 minutes, the rescuers found Alexander, who was clinically dead. He was slowly warmed up and resuscitated by doctors in nearby Galtuer, the other village hit by a giant avalanche a day earlier.

Alexander was rushed to the Zams hospital the next morning.

Of 11 patients hospitalized in Zams, five seriously injured people were still under treatment, Schranz said by telephone, ``but they are in stable condition, and things are getting better.″

The avalanche victims _ 31 dead in Galtuer and seven in Valzur _ were mourned Sunday at a memorial service in Innsbruck televised live to several European countries.

About 100 Austrian army soldiers are to remain at the site through the week, clearing rubble from damaged and destroyed houses.

Galtuer reportedly was the deadliest avalanche in the Alps since 1970, when one killed 74 people in the Haute-Savoie region of France and another killed 39 in the French resort of Val D’Isere.

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