An Australian teen missing for nine weeks and feared dead was finally found by two hikers Saturday outside the town of Westleigh, near Sydney. Matthew Allen, 18, was discovered covered in leeches and other insect bites, and suffering from gangrene in his feet and lower legs. He had lost half his body weight and has been rendered partially blind by malnourishment. Matthew was taken immediately by helicopter to a nearby hospital where he is recovering.
No explanation has been given for why Matthew entered the bushland in late November, but survival experts are in awe of his ability to subsist with virtually no food during a record heat wave. “He was not living under any shelter and was exposed to the full conditions,” said Glyn Baker of the Hornsby police. “Anyone who is missing for that length of time in those kind of conditions ... you wouldn’t expect to see them again.” Some reports have suggested that Matthew may have survived by eating small animals from a nearby urban runoff creek.
Glen Nash, of the Australian School of Mountaineering, believes Matthew could have survived on water alone:
The common rule of thumb in our industry is you can live for three minutes without air, three hours without shelter in extreme environments, three days without water and, depending on who you talk to, three weeks without food. Some people would say three months even. It's OK to have the water, but the human body needs minerals and salts and if you don't get those other elements you're going to be pretty sick. You're going to potentially even be dead.
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