File picture: Pixabay

A five-year-old boy who went missing during a family walk in Argentina was found safe and well after 24 hours lost in a desert in the west of the country.

Authorities in San Juan province and some 1 000 volunteers went searching for the boy - with a former Dakar Rally motorcyclist finding him 21 kilometres (13 miles) from where he was last seen.

The child was hospitalised for slight dehydration.

"I was cold, I slept badly, leaning on a rock," he told the newspaper Clarin upon leaving hospital Tuesday. 

The boy said he had drunk from a stream and eaten grass.

"He spent 24 hours in nature, that is not nothing," said Alberto Ontiveros, the man who found him, noting that wild pumas roam the area.

* Receive IOL's top stories via Whatsapp by sending your name to 0745573535. 

AFP