Photo/IllutrationYoshiki Fujimoto, 2, is rescued on Aug. 15 after he went missing in Suo-Oshima, Yamaguchi Prefecture, on Aug. 12. (Provided by Yamaguchi Asahi Broadcasting Ltd.)

  • Photo/Illustraion
  • Photo/Illustraion

SUO-OSHIMA, Yamaguchi Prefecture--A 2-year-old boy missing for three days was found safe and well Aug. 15 on a mountain just a few hundred meters from his great-grandfather’s home here.

Yoshiki Fujimoto, of Hofu in the prefecture, was discovered around 6:30 a.m. by a 78-year-old volunteer from Oita Prefecture who had joined the search operation, Yamaguchi prefectural police said.

Haruo Obata had gone up the mountain, northeast from the great-grandfather’s house, close to where Yoshiki had last been seen, to search for the boy. After repeatedly calling his name, he got a reply: “I’m here.”

Obata said, “I found him sitting on a moss-covered rock in the middle of a mountain stream, with his feet dangling in the water.

“I thought he was in pretty good shape because he snatched a bag of candy which I gave him and crunched on them.”

Obata wrapped the boy in a towel and descended the mountain, joining police officers on the way, who drove the boy to his great-grandfather’s home, where his anxious family was waiting for him.

Yoshiki’s 37-year-old mother burst into tears when she saw him. Yoshiki had no problem conversing with his mother and grandmother, according to police.

The boy was taken to a hospital in Yanai in the prefecture for a checkup.

A doctor said he was suffering from dehydration and had scratches and tick bites on his skin, but no obvious injuries.

The child clung to his mother, saying, “Mommy.” He is expected to remain in hospital for several days.

The boy's 66-year-old grandfather took Yoshiki and his 3-year-old brother to swim in the sea about 400 meters from the home around 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 12.

After walking 100 meters or so toward the beach, Yoshiki suddenly announced, “I want to go home,” and started walking back.

The grandfather watched, apparently unconcerned that the boy could get lost.

Yoshiki's mother and two other children who left the house soon afterward did not come across him, and the family then realized that he had gone missing.

About 150 prefectural police officers and firefighters had been searching for Yoshiki since Aug. 12, focusing on the area around his great-grandfather’s home.

On Aug. 14, Yoshiki’s mother called out to him through a community wireless system, saying, “Yo-chan, say anything. Come out soon.” But there was no reply.

Yuichi Koide, who heads the department of clinical research at the National Hospital Organization Disaster Medical Center, said, “I am relieved the boy is safe as it is extremely difficult for a 2-year-old child to endure three days outdoors under such harsh conditions.”

The highest temperature was around 33 degrees in Suo-Oshima over the three days from Aug. 12.