Liza Fomkina and her aunt – a woman suffering from a disability – went missing on September 13 after taking two dogs on a walk in Orekhovo-Zuevo, a town in the Moscow region. The aunt’s body was found yesterday. Liza’s body was found today.
Liza was just four years old. Her aunt was 39.
According to RIA Novosti, the main search and rescue efforts were conducted by volunteers and people living nearby. Since Liza’s body has been found, plenty of volunteers have gone on record to say that they believed the official rescue efforts to have been poorly organized and insufficient.
Preliminary findings suggest that both Liza and her aunt died from exposure. The aunt died at least five days after the pair had gone missing – which suggests that if these two people, one big and one small and both helpless, were only found in time, they would still be alive today.
Some of the details of this case that have been discussed by volunteers on LiveJournal and other sites are almost too saddening to publish. All paint a picture of a horrifying situation – two people are dead, having suffered from cold, hunger and terror before they died, and not at all far from home.
One can hope that an independent inquiry will be launched into how the case of Liza Fomkina was handled by local authorities – and that it will be both fair and balanced. One can hope that heads will roll over this – if heads deserve to roll.
Then again, one also lives in the real world.
Besides the neighbours and volunteers, there were 80 professionals involved in searching for Liza and her aunt. Most volunteers are not blaming the people on the ground – but they are blaming high-placed officials who could have, and most likely should have, done more – authorized more help and more equipment, for one thing. Boris Gromov, the governor of the Moscow region, bragged about his helicopter to journalists this summer – when massive traffic jams caused chaos on Leningradskoye Shosse, Gromov gleefully suggested that the best way to deal with traffic on the roads is to take to the sky in a classic moment worth of Marie Antoinette herself. Perhaps he could have donated the same helicopter to the search and rescue team…? Or would that have been too much to ask?
It’s hard to imagine a tragedy like this happening in the Moscow region, less than a 100 kilometers away from the capital itself. Today, people are asking – where was the head of the Ministry of Emergency Situations? Where was the military – which has such a large presence in the region?
Some have already pointed out that if these two people lasted a week in the forest – considering the fact that the weather this week turned cold and foul – this fact alone can already be referred to as a miracle.
It’s just too bad that the rescuers did not reach them sooner.
According to forensic experts, little Liza was alive for at least a day after her aunt had died. This child was left to die in the woods, alone, with this nation’s so-called elite traversing the skies above her head in their helicopters.