Girl, ten, survives -11C temperatures by cuddling a stray dog for warmth

A ten-year-old girl miraculously survived a ferociously cold night in a snow blizzard in Russia by clinging on to a stray dog for warmth.

Vika Z was found with frostbite hugging the 'fluffy' abandoned pet following a frantic search by police, officials and volunteers.

She had got lost half a mile from her home as she returned from school in Uglegorsk on Russia's largest island, Sakhalin, in temperatures that plunged to minus 11C, said police.

The blizzard led to snowfalls more than 2ft deep with drifts piling up to the first floor of houses in some places.

The girl was eventually found 18 hours after walking home from school.

She told how she was 'hugging a fluffy dog for warmth'.

Vika and the stray mongrel were lying on a mattress, which had been put out for homeless dogs, under a low balcony, giving shelter from the raging storm.

'She was taken straight to hospital, and found to have mild frostbite,' said a local source.

Vika had left school at 1pm, and was found next morning at 8:45am.

Olesya Voznyuk, an official with the Investigative Committee, said: 'She was hiding under a balcony with the dog.

'The girl loves animals very much, she used to play with local dogs all the time.

'She went to feed these dogs after school and then got caught in the snow storm and strong winds.'

The space under the balcony gave some shelter but it still took more than 40 people over 12 hours to find her from when her parents raised the alarm .

Her 'relieved' mother Tatyana, 34, was reunited with Vika at hospital.

The girl was allowed home the same day .

Now there are plans to honour the dog that saved Vika - if they can find it.