Boy, 3, found days after going missing in rural area of Australia
Polair searches bushland shortly before finding three year old AJ Elfalak alive on the family property near Putty south west of Sydney. Three year old AJ has been missing for 4 days with a massive search effort being launched by NSW Police, SES and the RFS. Dean Lewins/AAP/dpa
Polair searches bushland shortly before finding three year old AJ Elfalak alive on the family property near Putty south west of Sydney. Three year old AJ has been missing for 4 days with a massive search effort being launched by NSW Police, SES and the RFS. Dean Lewins/AAP/dpa

A 3-year-old boy was found alive on Monday, three days after going missing from his family's rural property in the eastern Australian state of New South Wales, police said.

The boy was spotted by an helicopter at about 11:30 am (0130 GMT) on Monday, nearly 72 hours after being last seen at a rural property in Putty, some 110 kilometres north-west of Sydney, NSW police said in a statement.

He was reunited with his family and was being assessed by NSW Ambulance paramedics, the statement said.

Police also released video showing the moment the boy was spotted by a helicopter drinking water from a creek.

"It's a good news story," police superintendent Tracy Chapman told media, adding that the fact that he was close to water "is potentially what gave him that opportunity to survive."

His disappearance sparked a major rescue operation which included Trailbike officers, The Dog and Mounted Unit, Police divers and PolAir, among others, as well as hundreds of emergency service volunteers.

Local media reported that the boy, who has autism and is non-verbal, survived three nights alone in bushland in temperatures which dipped as low as 3 degrees Celsius.

"He's got some nappy rash, he's been bitten by ants, he's fallen over, but he's alive," his father told local media.

SES volunteers return after finding three year old AJ Elfalak alive on the family property near Putty south west of Sydney. Three year old AJ has been missing for 4 days with a massive search effort being launched by NSW Police, SES and the RFS. Dean Lewins/AAP/dpa
Anthony Elfalak thanks detectives after finding his three year old son AJ Elfalak alive on the family property near Putty south west of Sydney. Three year old AJ has been missing for 4 days with a massive search effort being launched by NSW Police, SES and the RFS. Dean Lewins/AAP/dpa
A relieved Anthony Elfalak after learning his 3 year old son AJ has been found alive on the family property near Putty south west of Sydney. Three year old AJ has been missing for 4 days with a massive search effort being launched by NSW Police, SES and the RFS. Dean Lewins/AAP/dpa