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Romanian toddler rescued from well

Furnica rescued Alina
Teenager Furnica volunteered to be lowered down the well  

BUCHAREST, Romania -- A Romanian toddler has been rescued from a well after a six-hour ordeal broadcast live on national television.

Bulldozers, villagers and other children struggled for hours to save the two-year-old girl who plunged into the well when her mother turned her back.

The toddler, Alina Pascaru, climbed into a bucket hanging over the well, riding it 16 feet down the well shaft until her mother grabbed the crank, jolting it to a stop.

The child fell out and became wedged between the bucket and the wall.

"It happened in a fraction of a second," Alina's mother, Marilena, said on Tuesday, Associated Press news agency reported.

The rescue effort was broadcast on Romania's three television stations for six hours and was watched by millions.

Viewers begged for help

Neighbours failed to dig the child out, and Alina could not be persuaded to grab ropes so she could be pulled out.

Rescuers tried lowering two other children headfirst into the well in hopes they could take Alina's hands and pull her to safety. But the children panicked inside the dank shaft and had to be pulled out.

News reporters pleaded with viewers to call in suggestions for rescuing the child.

Then a slender teenager, Oana Furnica, volunteered to go down the shaft, her legs secured by a rope lowered by rescuers.

She plucked a shocked and muddied Alina to safety on the second attempt, grabbing her hands and hoisting her up. Alina was treated for hypothermia and shock at a hospital where she was described as stable by doctors on Tuesday.

The village mayor awarded Furnica a plot of land for her courage and viewers pledged about $5,000 for the teenager.

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