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One more missing Russian rafter found alive in China

By Xinhua

Hotan (China) : Rescuers found a second Russian tourist alive Friday evening in northwest China, hours after finding the first survivor from a group of six Russians who went missing on a rafting trip a month ago.

The rescuers informed their headquarters in Hotan, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, by satellite phone that the Russian was found at 8:00 p.m. local time.

However, the phone connection got snapped because of bad weather condition before the survivor’s identity could be confirmed, rescue headquarter deputy head Zhang Shaoyun said.

The Russian survivor will be taken to Hotan by helicopter Saturday, weather permitting, as it was too late for the helicopter to fly when the rescuers called, he added.

The first survivor, Alexander Zverev, 35, was rescued at about 10:30 a.m. local time Friday on the banks of the upper reaches of the Yurungkax River. He said he had only drunk river water and had not eaten in the 25 days since his boat capsized in the river on Aug 28.

Doctors said Zverev, weighing 58 kg, a full 24 kg less than a month ago, was suffering from dehydration and malnutrition.

Zverev said Sergey Chernik, 47, and his son Ivan Chernik, 25, fell into the river and drowned on Aug 24, four days after they started rafting.

He and the remaining three members of the group placed the bodies under one of the catamarans on the river bank but were forced to continue rafting in the other boat after failing to find an overland route out.

However, their boat capsized Aug 28. Zverev said two members of the team were engulfed in whirlpools but he managed to swim to the bank and survived. Zverev had thought they were dead. The body of a third man, Vladimir Smetannikov, 25, has already been found.