Missing Italian boy found by journalist covering story of his disappearance

Child aged 21 months spent two nights alone in woods near his home in Tuscany

The missing boy was rescued by a Carabinieri commander after he was heard by a journalist reporting on his disappearance. Photograph: Getty Images

The missing boy was rescued by a Carabinieri commander after he was heard by a journalist reporting on his disappearance. Photograph: Getty Images

 

A 21-month-old child has been found alive in the bottom of a ravine after spending two nights alone in woods near his home in Tuscany.

The boy was found when a TV journalist heard his whimpers, emerging with a bump on his head and some scratches but in otherwise good condition.

Nicola Tanturli had wandered away from his isolated home in the Apennine mountains sometime during the night on Monday, and was the subject of an intense round-the-clock search and Italian media coverage.

Church bells rang out in celebration in the town of Palazzuolo sul Senio, near Florence, when the boy was found, a mile from his home.

A journalist for RAI state television covering the story said he was walking up a dirt road towards the family home when he heard whimpers from a ravine heavily covered in trees and brush.

“I started to yell, ‘Nicola’, to understand if it could be the child. I heard ‘mamma’,” Giuseppe Di Tommaso said. “I started to repeat the word ‘mamma’, because children of that age repeat words. When I intuited that it could be Nicola, I went down into the ravine.”

He said he could see the child on the other side, about 10m away in a hard-to-reach area thick with thorny brush.

A car drove by at that moment, and Di Tommaso said he hailed two Carabinieri paramilitary officers, who initially disbelieved that the sounds could have come from the boy, “this being an area full of animals that make sounds that can sound like a child”.

Carabinieri commander Danilo Ciccarelli said he climbed some 25m down the embankment, expecting to find a small deer. “Instead, Nicola popped out, with his little head among the high grass. He said, ‘mamma’, and I went towards him. He hugged me right away,” the commander said.

The officer said he checked the boy’s condition, finding only some scratches and a small bump on his head, before carrying him up the embankment and reuniting him with his parents.

“It was a tremendous joy to bring him back to his mother’s arms,” Mr Ciccarelli said.

The commander said he did not believe the boy spent the night where he was found, because the brush and grass was not tamped down, and that it was likely he had arrived through the woods, not from the road.

“He is a very active child, very lively,” town mayor Gian Piero Philip Moschetti told a news conference. “He could walk for a kilometre an hour. We have no idea how much distance he could have covered. He was used to going out of the house and living outdoors.”– AP