A Russian man who was found in a cave has been described as ‘corpse-like’ after having his back broken by a bear which was saving him to eat later.
The man, who was only identified as Alexander, was discovered by hunting dogs in the country’s remote Tuva region, close to the border with Mongolia.
At first, the hunters thought the body had been mummified by the dry air but soon realised that the man was still alive. Their dogs refused to move on from the cave, causing them to delve deeper inside, where they made the grim, but extremely lucky discovery.
Shocking images and footage show how Alexander’s face and body had started to decompose after lying in the same position for a month. He had open wounds and blood and dirty all over him. His grey skin was starting to rot away and his eyes looked dull and could hardly open.
Speaking to hospital staff in Russian, instead of the regional language of Tuvan, he said it had been roughly a month. The man could barely speak or open his eyes and could move his arms slightly.
Brown bears are known to try to bury animals they kill, sometimes waiting for days or weeks before returning to it. It’s thought this is to hide it from other bears while the meat decomposes and ‘ripens’.
The bears will hunt and eat almost anything – feeding on leaves, fruit, roots, fish and occasionally other land animals which they hunt themselves or find already dead.
Brown bear dens are used mainly for hibernation, with the animals either building one by digging out vast quantities of earth or else making use of natural caves – which sounds like it was where Alexander had been found.
Alexander told medics that he drank urine to stay alive, while worrying the bear would return. Doctors said it was a ‘miracle’ that he wasn’t killed, and admit that they aren’t sure how he was able to survive for so long.
Reports in local media say that the man remembers his first name but doesn’t know his surname or how old he is.
A video shows the bearded man opening his blue eyes and confirming his first name.
He was described as having ‘severe injuries and rotting tissue’ from lying motionless for so long in the den.
“Local medics say they cannot explain how the man survived such injuries,” said the report.
The exact location where he was found has not been revealed, nor the name of the hospital where he was treated.
It’s not yet confirmed how Alexander’s recovery is going, but he is still receiving treatment in hospital.