Two young brothers escaped an apartment by jumping 33ft from a window to the ground below after members of the public came to their rescue. The children, aged ten and three, were caught as they fell towards the pavement in the south-eastern French city of Grenoble on Tuesday – with French media reporting both were unharmed by the fall.
Video of the dramatic rescue showed the younger brother being dropped from at least three storeys up, with the 10-year-old then letting himself fall into the arms of those below as smoke billowed from the window and flames engulfed the building.
The boys were taken to hospital along with 17 residents of the building and four of those who had the children’s fall.
Athoumani Walid, a 25-year-old student who suffered a wrist wound from helping catch the children, said he was among five bystanders who rushed to help after hearing screams. “We didn’t know what to do,” Mr Walid said. “We wanted to break the door but it wasn’t possible.” When that did not work, he added, they called down to the children to jump into their arms.
While initially fearful, ”when they jumped, fear disappeared”, Mr Walid said. “What mattered was to catch”.
Mayor Eric Piolle congratulated residents on the rescue, which he said underscored the city’s “tradition of solidarity and mutual help”. Mr Walid has since said he hopes the rescue will change perceptions of the Villeneuve neighbourhood, which has a large immigrant population. “We are told it’s a ‘sensitive’ neighbourhood,” he said, “but yesterday we showed we are here for each other, and we save each other.”
The rescue has echoes of a similar incident in May 2018, when a young Malian migrant saved a child dangling from a balcony and was offered French citizenship. Video of the rescue showed 22-year-old Mamoudou Gassama climbing up four floors of the apartment building in just seconds to rescue the child, to cheers from onlookers. By the time Parisian emergency services arrived, he had already pulled the child to safety.
This Article Was Originally Published On independent.co.uk (23 July 2020)