Emergency rescuers in Siberian city of Barnaul were left puzzled over the weekend after a homeless man got stuck in a ventilation shaft, reportedly lured into the uncomfortable position by the smell of traditional Russian beetroot soup.
The man, who was not identified, reportedly crawled four floors down a ventilation tube in pursuit of the delicious waft of borshch, a Russian favorite, LifeNews reported Sunday.
He eventually became stuck when he reached the ventilator's head, which was just 60 centimeters wide and 40 centimeters deep, head of the rescue team, Vladimir Prisyazhnikh, was cited as saying in the report.
Residents were alerted to the man's plight after hearing the man's cries for help.
"The noise repeated itself and somehow got closer, and then it became clear that this was a man and he was yelling: 'Save me, help me, I'm choking,'" Nikita Sergeyev, a resident of the apartment block, was quoted as saying by LifeNews.
The emergency services were called to the scene and tried their best to help free the man by lowering a rope down the shaft. But the man had entered the shaft head first and could therefore not reach the rope with his hands.
Eventually, rescuers decided to smash through the walls in a bid to get him out — working through the wall by trial-and-error before locating his exact position on the floor below.
In a video of the incident uploaded Saturday to YouTube, two rescuers can be seen wielding sledgehammers before the buttocks of a man emerges behind a hole in the wall. Rescuers finally manage to pull out the visibly disorientated man, who, the report says, had neatly folded his shirt and put away his shoes before diving into the shaft.
The man reportedly first told medics he had been thrown down the ventilation tube by his brother, before changing his story to an account that had him clamber into the pipes in pursuit of the smell of borshch.
Preliminary information suggests the man had been under the influence of alcohol or psychotropic drugs at the time of the incident, LifeNews reported.