Dramatic moment trapped boy,7, reaches for grandad through crack in ground after river swept him into underground cave

A PANICKING grandpa has been pictured gripping on to his trapped grandson’s hand through a crack in the ground.

The boy, seven, was feared swept to his death while swimming in a Chinese river – but was miraculously found when his hand dramatically popped up through the tiny gap.

He was sucked into an underground cave while swimming in the fast-moving Nanxi River in Yongjia, Wenzhou, reports Qianjing Evening News.

The little boy's grandfather Lao Ye said that on the evening of July 22 he took his grandson to swim. child had disappeared from the water.

Mr Ye added: "The child suddenly disappeared. I was really scared to death at the time!"

He and fellow villagers searched carefully by the river and found an underground cave on the bank with the child's hand sticking out.

Fourteen firefighters rushed to the scene to rescue him in the East China province.

Incredibly, the plucky lad had managed to find a space under the earth where there was air so that he could breathe.

The firefighters found Mr Ye still gripping his grandson's hand to prevent him being swept away to his death.

The authorities said the naturally formed tunnel appeared just wide enough for the boy to keep his head above water, but breaking him out was a huge challenge.

Firefighters feared that excavating the riverbank directly above the boy's head would cause a potentially dangerous cave-in, so they had to begin by carefully breaking apart the earth nearby.

In video of the rescue, they can be seen digging through several inches of thick mud and rock using a crowbar and their bare hands.

The boy was freed in just over ten minutes and reunited with his relieved grandad. He did not come to any serious harm, Yongjia County Fire Rescue Brigade reported.

Unnamed local officials told Qianjiang Evening News that they were unaware of the existence of the narrow opening, which appeared to be diverting river water into an underground cave system.

The tunnel has since been sealed to prevent similar accidents from happening in the future, they added.

Yongjia authorities attended a similar accident just ten days earlier when a 13-year-old girl was sucked into a narrow drainage pipe while swimming in a reservoir.

Rescuers were only able to free the teen after five hours of drilling and excavating, due to the high flow pressure of the drainage pipe, its small diameter and hard, thick rocks covering it.

Sadly, she died during the rescue, reports Yue Niu News.

Firefighters who freed the trap girl reminded parents: "Summer is the season with a high incidence of drowning, so you must be careful with your children and pay attention to safety."

There is a sign near the reservoir warning that "swimming is prohibited in dangerous waters".

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