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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 September, 2004, 13:31 GMT 14:31 UK
Beslan boy recalls hostage horror
Hostage video
Georgy Farniyev: He was only five metres from the first explosion
The boy turns to the camera in terror as the masked man flashes a white-gloved hand at the detonator under his foot.

The image of 10-year-old Georgy Farniyev was seen all over the world when a video shot by the hostage-takers inside the school in Beslan was released.

He could easily have been among the more than 300 who died - but miraculously he survived.

The woman and girl visible at his left in the video are both believed to be dead.

"They said: 'Sit down and if you make any noise, we will kill 20 children,'" Georgy told BBC correspondent Andrew Burroughs.

Body bags

Georgy left the siege with cuts to his leg and arm. His injuries require further treatment but are not thought to be serious.

Georgy Farniyev
Georgy now, with a picture of himself at the feet of the gunman
His mother told British newspaper The Sun how hours of sifting through body-bags ended with a call from a hospital, saying a boy matching Georgy's description had been found alive.

"It was the worst imaginable torture each time I looked inside the bags containing the remains of children, the ones with the most space inside," she said.

"Each time I thought I was about to see the face of my dead son - and each time I felt the most incredible relief before moving down the line to do it again," she said.

Burst pipe

It is not entirely clear how Georgy emerged alive from the siege, avoiding the gunfight between rebels and Russian commandos and the bomb blasts that brought the school's roof down.

He told The Sun he was barely five metres from the first mine detonated inside the building on Friday.

Georgy with mother
Georgy's mother spent hours searching for him

"The explosion was very close to me and I still don't understand why I wasn't killed. I sat up and was just dazed while everyone else seemed to be screaming."

He says he asked one of his captors if he could get water to drink, then made his way to a room with a burst pipe.

Behind him, another explosion shook the building - thought to be from mines wired to the basketball hoops inside the school gymnasium.

'I was going to live'

He returned to a scene of carnage.

"There were body parts - arms and legs - everywhere and wounded people screaming for help as the gunmen carried on firing at them.

"In the middle of it all was a dead woman who had been blown into two parts by one of the bombs.

"Everyone in the area where I had been sitting was dead from the explosions."

Shrapnel was lodged in his arm and he removed it before going to hide, he told the Associated Press.

Amid the chaos, a pair of hands hoisted him out - it was a Russian soldier.

"I couldn't believe it - I was going to live," he said.

A phrase crops up several times in his account. He repeated it like a mantra throughout the ordeal: "Stay as quiet as a mouse... as quiet as a mouse."

The BBC's Jonathan Charles
"Georg is very lucky to have survived"

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