Tuesday, August 16

First glimpse of boy found alive after parents left him in bear infested woods as punishment



Laying on a stretcher surrounded by medics, this is one of the first images of the seven-year-old boy who was left by his parents in bear-infested woods as a punishment.

Young Yamato Tanooka was discovered at a remote Japanese military base about 2.5 miles from where he vanished almost a week ago.

He was dumped by the side of the road in Hokkaido, Japan by his parents who wanted to discipline him for throwing stones at cars.

But after nearly a week’s search, involving up to 130 police officers, the youngster was found alive and unharmed.

In images captured shortly after the youngster was found, the boy can be seen being led away on a stretcher by medics as an emergency helicopter hovers overhead.

Rescue officers who found the boy said his first words were: “I’m hungry.”

The boy’s father, Takayuki Tanooka, thanked rescuers after his boy was found.

Mr Tanooka said: “We’ve reflected on what we did and it was really excessive.

“We – well, we loved him before, but I hope to give him even more attention now.”

A member of Japan’s Self-Defence Forces said: “One of our soldiers was preparing for drills this morning and opened the door of a building on the base, and there he was.

“When he asked ‘are you Yamato?’ the boy said yes. Then he said he was hungry, so the soldier gave him some water, bread and riceballs.”

Yamato was taken to hospital for checks but was healthy except for low body temperature and would be kept overnight as a precaution, a doctor told a news conference.

The island is home to the deadly Ussuri brown bear , which can grow to a massive 550kg – almost 90 stone.

The boy somehow managed to survive for nearly a week in the densely forested area, where night temperatures fell as low as seven degrees and heavy rain had fallen, despite wearing only a t-shirt and jeans.

Yamato said he had “walked through the mountains” until he found the building, which was unlocked.

He drank water from a nearby faucet and slept on mattresses spread on the floor.

According to TV Asahi , the father was too embarrassed to admit the truth when Tanooka went missing and he was forced to request a police search on Saturday.

Despite returning ‘immediately’ to where they had left him, they said, he had disappeared.

He had originally claimed the boy had got lost while the three were on a walk.

Brown bears have a history of killing humans – with more than 140 people killed in the first 57 years of the 20th century.

In 1915, seven people were killed and three more injured after a 380kg and 2.7m tall brown bear attacked the same Hokkaido village twice. Japanese boy abandoned in bear-infested woods found by rescuers.