Great news from Japan: After days where a grim outcome seemed increasingly likely, the boy abandoned in a forest by his parents has been found alive and physically unharmed. On Friday, soldiers found 7-year-old Yamato Tanooka in a hut at a military drill area a few miles away from where his parents had left him by the side of a forest road as punishment, the Japan Times reports. Soldiers say he was curled up on a mattress when they found him and they gave him rice balls and bread when he told them he was hungry and thirsty, the Guardian reports. He was taken to a hospital by military helicopter and was treated for dehydration and possible hypothermia. Doctors say the boy, who had been on his own since Saturday, was unharmed apart from scratches on his arms and legs.
Yamato's parents told authorities that they returned five minutes after leaving the boy and found him gone. At least 180 rescuers joined the search, combing woods on the northern island of Hokkaido, which are home to a species of brown bear. It's not clear how long the boy had been in the unheated hut during a week when overnight temperatures dropped as low as 44 degrees Fahrenheit. Police say he told his rescuers he hadn't eaten but had found water to drink. Yamato's father, Takayuki Tanooka, visited his son and apologized, the AP reports. "I told him I was so sorry for causing him such pain," the father told reporters outside the hospital. He said the boy has been "raised with love," and while the punishment for throwing rocks was supposed to be for Yamato's own good, he realizes that he went too far.