Miracle as a missing German boy “Joe”, eight, is found whimpering in a sewer a week after he disappeared from his home and sparked a massive manhunt
- Joe, 8 from Oldenburg, is said to have been stuck in the sewers for eight days
- A passer-by heard a “low whimper” and called the police, who found Joe unharmed
- An eyewitness who saw the rescue said, “I can’t believe he was in there and alive!”
A young boy was miraculously found in an underground sewer by a passerby after disappearing from his parents’ front yard eight days earlier.
Eight-year-old Joe lives with his parents in Oldenburg, Germany, and mysteriously disappeared on June 17.
A massive search was launched and hundreds of local residents, detectives and dog handlers took part, but no trace of him was found – until a passer-by called the police and on March 25 he was found.
The walker heard the noise and called police at 6:22 a.m. Police, fire brigade and other rescue workers rushed to the scene.
Joe lives with his parents in the Donnerschwee district of Oldenburg
Emergency services removed a manhole cover to find the boy in knee-deep water before taking him to safety
The police are now investigating how it came about that the boy was trapped in the sewers
Rescue workers rushed to the scene of the crime, about 200 meters from the family’s home in the Donnerschwee district.
When crews lifted the manhole cover, they found Joe at the bottom of the sewer, managed to calm him down, and a firefighter climbed into the sewer to pull him out.
Police are now investigating whether he got lost or was detained, German media reports, with police conceding the possibility someone put him in there on purpose.
He was hospitalized with hypothermia but has no major injuries and is expected to make a full recovery.
The Oldenburg Police Department said he was being “well looked after” at a local hospital. He is to be questioned about what happened in the coming days.
An eyewitness told local media: “I saw the boy being carefully pulled out of the hole, a helper calmed him down.
“I didn’t know it was Joe. He looked unharmed. I can’t believe he was in there and alive!’
And an unnamed neighbor added: “A rescuer calmed the child. He looked unharmed.
“It was very fortunate that he was heard – a lot of cars pass through here and the noise level is higher there.”
Hundreds of local residents, detectives and dog handlers were involved in the search for Joe
Another told German newspaper Bild: “I come here often. If he had been there a long time someone would have heard him sooner.’
Police are investigating how Joe managed to survive in the sewer gully for so long and how he got down there in the first place.
But they were keen to share the good news with locals, tweeting: “8-year-old Joe is alive!”
The Oldenburg Squad now plans to use specialized robots to travel through the sewers and figure out how Joe got stuck down there.
Due to the narrowness of the canal, no adults could pass through, police have confirmed.
Retired paramedic Peter Sefrin, 81, told local media: “With these temperatures, the heat is an important factor.
“But of course it’s cooler in the canal. Humans can survive a good three days without water and food. This is not a problem.’
He added: “We know that people buried in caves survived on dripping condensation. Maybe that was the case here too.”