Alive and well, the ten-year-old boy who sat inches away from an armed terrorist

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The Independent Online

A ten-year-old boy from Beslan who featured in the hostage-takers' propaganda video has been found alive despite the fact that a mine detonated just five metres (15 feet) from him.

In the video Georgy Farniyev is seen placing his hands on his head, a look of terror in his eyes, as one of the hostage-takers points to a detonator under his foot. Georgy is pictured alongside Sima Alikova, 57, and Vera Gurieva, 12; both are thought to have died when a series of explosions ripped through School Number One's gymnasium.

Georgy, who was pulled from the wreckage by a Russian soldier, appears to owe his life to two extraordinary strokes of luck. He was so close to the mine that when it went off that the blast went over his head, leaving him virtually unscathed.

A second explosion was to detonate moments later, but Georgy says he left the sports hall with the tacit agreement of one of the hostage-takers.

When he returned the hall was a bloody mess of singed body parts. One woman hostage had been cut in two by the blast.

Georgy, speaking from the back of the ambulance that was taking him to Moscow for treatment, told the world's media that he survived by "keeping quiet as a mouse".

He was there with his aunt Irina and 6-year-old cousin, Elbrus, who also survived, although with serious injuries.

His mother Marina, a 31-year-old shop worker, initially thought he was dead and saw a succession of bodies in the area's morgues before finding him alive.

Georgy is waiting to have some shards of shrapnel removed from his knee, but doctors say he is expected to make a full physical recovery.