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The family of a three-year-old boy who was miraculously discovered alive days after going missing in the Australian outback believe the Virgin Mary kept him safe, even saying they've spotted her in police footage of his rescue. You can see the footage yourself here:
Anthony 'AJ' Elfalak had been missing for 72 hours before rescue teams spotted him on 6 September.
An astonishing video, which has been viewed all around the world, captured the moment Elfalak was sighted drinking muddy water from a puddle.
However, in a somewhat spooky screengrab from that same video, AJ's family say viewers can actually make out the figure of the Virgin Mary, who had been watching over their son after he went missing from his home in a remote part of the Hunter Valley in New South Wales.
"We're a religious family...I always say that the Virgin Mary and all the saints and the angels are with my kids every day," AJ's mother Kelly told news.com.au.
"The Virgin Mary is always with us and I knew she was always with AJ.
"If you saw the picture of AJ in the creek, you can actually see the Virgin Mary next to him."
Ms Elfalak also credited the rescue to the power of prayer.
She said: "I prayed one hour before...I took the holy communion...I just had that feeling. I said to myself 'I'm going to see him soon'."
The toddler, who is autistic and nonverbal, suffered some lacerations to his lower legs but was completely healthy otherwise.
AJ's mum went on to declare the successful search a 'miracle' and added: "I'm not thinking about anything now. I'm happy, and my son's here.
"He is nice and warm. He's perfect, he's happy, he's healthy, he's sleeping. I cannot be happier right now. He's doing amazing."
NSW Police Supt Tracy Chapman said a search helicopter spotted AJ while passing over a valley about 470m from the family's home.
"It was a relief more than anything," she revealed.
"The longer something goes on, the more worried you become you won't get an outcome such as this... it's a good news story for the entire community.
"Experts we consulted said if he had access to water he was always going to be able to survive for a longer period of time."
Chapman added that along with drinking water, wombat holes could also have played a key part in AJ's survival, with temperatures in the bushland said to have dropped below 6C in the time that he was missing.
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