SAVED! - Man drinks from puddle for a week

They searched for him for a week. With drones, with search teams, dogs. His mother had given up hope. But her son survived - thanks to a mud puddle!

Mount Matajur in north-eastern Italy, on the border with Slovenia. Gianpaolo B. (31, engineer) actually wants to go hiking with a friend. The friend cancels at short notice and Gianpaolo sets off alone. He is at home here, he knows the mountains.

fire brigade
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Photo: Vigili del Fuoco

Gianpaolo B. planned the route in detail on his computer. A decision that will later save his life. On Saturday, 25 June, it starts with the ascent of the "Ferrata of Palma".

On his hike, the young engineer slips, loses his backpack with food and drink - and mobile phone - in the fall. He slips into a deep crevice, between branches and boulders. He is only slightly injured, but he cannot get out of here under his own power. 

The rescue mission in the Julian Alps in Northern Italy

Originally tweeted by Vigili del Fuoco (@vigilidelfuoco) on 2 July 2022.

His luck: there are small mud puddles with rainwater in the crevice. Enough to survive, but no more. Gianpaolo is so dehydrated that he keeps losing consciousness. He hears the helicopter and his rescuers, but cannot make himself heard. He doesn't have the strength. 

After five days in the crevice, a heavy thunderstorm moves in on Friday (1 July). The mountain rescue team is advised from all sides to give up the search. Head of operations Amadio Pittoni continues. 

Here lies Mount Matajur

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"I knew from the parents that he was prepared and would not give up," says Amadio Pittoni. He knows that the rain can keep the victim alive. Thanks to the planned route on Gianpaolo's computer, the head of operations knows where his people have to look. The route is compared with the last mobile phone signals of the missing person.

The next morning the helicopter rises again. Finally, salvation. The pilot discovers a small blue dot - Gianpaolo's helmet.

The firefighters rescue Gianpaolo, slightly injured and weakened. "I'm fine," he later told Corriere della Sera. 

The mother is infinitely grateful: "This is a miracle, we didn't believe in it any more". Her son is somewhat emaciated and looks like a lobster due to the strong sun...


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Cover/Montage - Photo: Dragoncello/Getty Images via;

Sources: own research; Twitter/Vigli del fuoco; Il gazzettino.itBeveva acqua e fango, non abbiamo mai mollato", ecco come si è salvato l'escursionista Gianpaolo Baggio";