Paris: A young Malian man was hailed a hero on Sunday after he sprang into action to save a four-year-old child hanging from a fourth-floor balcony by single-handedly scaling the facade of the building and hauling the youngster to safety.
Without a thought for his own safety, Mamoudou Gassama took just seconds to reach the child in a spectacular rescue captured on film and viewed millions of times on social networks.
Update: According to French media, the Malian migrant has been made a French citizen. "The City of Paris will obviously be keen to support him in his efforts to settle in France," said Paris Mayor Anne Higaldo in a recent tweet.
The incident took place at around 8pm (10pm UAE) on Saturday in northern Paris.
On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron met Gassama. "I told him that in recognition of this heroic act, he was going reguralised as soon as possible, and that the fire brigade of Paris was ready to welcome him."
Avec M. GASSAMA qui a sauvé samedi la vie d’un enfant en escaladant 4 étages à mains nues. Je lui ai annoncé qu’en reconnaissance de cet acte héroïque il allait être régularisé dans les plus brefs délais, et que la brigade des sapeurs-pompiers de Paris était prête à l’accueillir. pic.twitter.com/xMpFlP1UFe— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) May 28, 2018
Film of the rescue shows Gassama, 22, pulling himself up from balcony to balcony with his bare hands as a man on the fourth floor tries to hold on to the child by leaning across from a neighbouring balcony.
On reaching the fourth floor Gassama puts one leg over the balcony before reaching out with his right arm and grabbing the child.
Firefighters arrived at the scene to find the child had already been rescued.
Watch 22 year old Mamoudou Gassama heroically scaling four stories of a building when he sees a toddler about to fall to a certain death. When he began climbing the neighbors did not have ahold of the child’s arm yet. pic.twitter.com/67EsUmzwFN— Ray [REDACTED] (@RayRedacted) May 28, 2018
“Luckily, there was someone who was physically fit and who had the courage to go and get the child,” a fire service spokesman told AFP.
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo praised the young migrant on Twitter for his “act of bravery” as well as phoning him personally to “thank him warmly”.
“He explained to me that he had arrived from Mali a few months ago dreaming of building his life here.
“I told him that his heroic act is an example to all citizens and that the city of Paris will obviously be very keen to support him in his efforts to settle in France,” she added.
Tracked down by reporters 24 hours after the heroic rescue, Gassama said he had acted without thinking.
“I saw all these people shouting, and cars sounding their horns. I climbed up like that and, thank God, I saved the child,” he said.
“I felt afraid when I saved the child... (when) we went into the living room, I started to shake, I could hardly stand up, I had to sit down,” he added.
According to initial inquiries by the authorities, the child’s parents were not at home at the time.
The father was later held for questioning by police for having left his child unattended and was due in court later, a judicial source said. The child’s mother was not in Paris at the time.