Image: Algeria flood
Fayez Nureldine  /  AFP - Getty Images
A family walks past dead sheep after heavy floodings hit the Gaba suburb in the Algerian town of Ghardaia on Oct. 3,. The death toll in flash floods in the historic Algerian town reached 41 by Sunday.
updated 10/5/2008 3:01:29 PM ET 2008-10-05T19:01:29

A baby was found alive by rescuers after spending four days in a pool of mud following flash floods that killed at least 41 people in central Algeria this week, a local official said Sunday.

"It's a miracle, really a miracle to find it alive after all this time," the town governor of Ghardaia, Yahia Fahim, told national radio. The state-run APS news agency said the 4-month-old baby appeared in good health after being discovered late Saturday and had been handed to a family while authorities looked for its parents.

Journalists in Ghardaia, where most of the victims drowned, said none of them had seen the baby since it was saved. But the governor said its photo would be posted in all local media for the family to recognize it. It was not clear from his comments whether the baby was a boy or a girl.

Authorities did not say how they knew the baby had been in the mud since the flooding.

The reported rescue came as authorities confirmed at least 41 deaths in the floods caused by torrential rains this week in this usually arid region. In addition to 33 casualties already reported in and around Ghardaia, two more people drowned in the adjacent district of Ourghla and four died farther to the north in the town of Tebessa, some 600 kilometers (370 miles) east of Algiers, APS said.

Authorities say massive rescue efforts are ongoing in the zone and that emergency measures have been taken to prevent epidemics from spreading through polluted waters.

Hundreds of troops and security services have deployed to prevent looting and help with recovery operations. Thousands of blankets, tents and food units were being handed out in Ghardaia, home to about 100,000 people.

Some 1,400 houses were severely damaged in this medieval town located in a long and narrow valley known as the M'zab, about 370 miles (600 kilometers) south of the capital, APS said. The M'zab is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site and lies on the edge of the Sahara, the world's largest desert.

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