Australia floods: Three-year-old girl and pet dog found alive after going missing

Zoe Tidman
Matilda and her dog were found 24 hours after going missing in Australia after floods blocked their path home: Western Australia Police Force / Facebook

A three-year-old girl in Australia who went missing for nearly a day has been found alive with her dog.

Matilda was out walking with her Jack Russell when her path home became flooded following a bout of heavy rain, police have said.

She was spotted by a helicopter around 3.5km away from her house after “nearly 24 hours of being alone and without shelter”, according to Western Australia Police Force.

They shared a photo of her reunited with her family and covered in mud, with her Jack Russell in the background.

Over the past few days, parts of Australia have been battered by storms, which people hoped would help the country as it battles the worst wildfire season in Australian history.

However, heavy rainfall has caused flooding in some areas, including near Matilda’s home in Noreena Downs, Western Australia.

Recent downpours have “led to a number of the creeks surrounding the property being full of water”, police said.

“Matilda was able to make her way through one of these creeks while the water had subsided,” according to Western Australia Police Force. “However, due to the heavy rainfall, the creek quickly rose again trapping Matilda and her dog.”

A search effort was launched for Matilda and her dog on 15 January, with helicopters and teams on horses being deployed.

She was spotted by an aircraft the next afternoon.

The regional police said: “The community and police worked quickly and tirelessly in the search for little Matilda.”

Meteorologists had warned that while the heavy rainfall forecast could provided relief to some fire-ravaged areas, it could also cause problems.

“Thunderstorms are a bit of a double-edged sword,” said Kevin Parkyn from Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology. “While they can bring some much-needed rain, it can also come down in very fast, high quantities.”

Fire services welcomed downpours as they continue to battle Australia’s wildfires.

“Although this rain won’t extinguish all fires,” New South Wales’s force said, “it will certainly go a long way towards containment.”

Fires have raged through Australia since September, killing at least 29 people and torching thousands of homes.

Experts have estimated more than one billion animals have died in the blazes, which have burned an area of land the size of Bulgaria.

Additional reporting by agencies

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