Latin America & Caribbean

Argentina rescue: Huge search finds boy lost for day in desert

Picture of the boy tweeted by the governor Image copyright Twitter - Governor Sergio Uñac
Image caption Benjamín Sánchez: "I was really happy when I saw my mum"

A five-year-old boy who was rescued after almost 24 hours lost in the desert in western Argentina has been released from hospital.

Benjamín Sánchez went missing during a family trip on Sunday and was found by a team of volunteers 21km (13 miles) from where he was last seen.

"I was cold, I slept badly, leaning on a rock," said the boy, who was wearing only a T-shirt and light trousers.

He said he had survived by eating grass and drinking water from a stream.

After being rescued on Monday afternoon, the child was taken by helicopter to a hospital in San Juan suffering slight dehydration and was released on Tuesday.

'I got scared'

Benjamín was found sitting under a tree by a motorcyclist after a search operation that involved some 1,000 police, civil defence officials and volunteers.

"My mum was chasing me and I started running. At first I could hear her but then I got lost," he told El Clarín newspaper (in Spanish).

Image copyright Facebook - Governor Sergio Uñac
Image caption The boy was with his family on a trip in western Argentina

"I leaned on a stone, started calling her, but she didn't hear me... I [started] walking towards a light that was very far away."

Temperatures in the region this time of the year vary from 30C (86F) during the day to around zero at night.

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"I got scared," Benjamín said.

His mother says he is scared of flying and initially refused to board the helicopter. He only agreed to fly after being told he would be reunited with his family.

"I was really happy when I saw my mum. I was missing them all," said Benjamín.

San Juan Governor Sergio Uñac tweeted pictures of the boy after visiting him on Monday.

Alberto Ontiveros, who found the boy, said wild pumas roam the area.

"[Benjamín] was tired... The only thing he was asking for was water."

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