MILAN -- A 21-month-old child was found alive Wednesday in the bottom of a ravine after spending two nights alone in the 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 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, some 2 kilometers (a mile) from home.
A journalist for RAI state television covering the story was walking up a dirt road toward 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 on RAI. “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 10 meters (yards) away in a hard-to-reach area thick with thorny brush. A car drove by at that moment, and Di Tommaso hailed two Carabinieri paramilitary officers, who initially disbelieved 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 25 meters (yards) 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 toward him. He hugged me right away,” the commander 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,’’ Ciccarelli said.
The commander doesn’t believe the boy spent the night where he was found, because the brush and grass was not tamped down, and that it was likely that he had arrived through the woods, not from the road.
“He is a very active child, very lively,’’ Mayor Gian Piero Philip Moschetti told a news conference. “He could walk for a kilometer (half a mile) 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.”