23 years after being abducted on his way to kindergarten, one lost boy has finally made his way back home with the help of Google Maps.
Lou Gang, originally from China's Sichuan province, was kidnapped at the age of 5 and taken to the southeastern province of Fujian, nearly 1,000 miles away.
After being abandoned there, Luo was adopted by a family that loved him as their own, and Luo's birth parents eventually gave up their search and adopted a daughter.
But Luo refused to abandon hope of ever finding his biological mother and father.
"Everyday before I went to bed, I forced myself to re-live the life spent in my old home," he told a Fujian news outlet. "So I wouldn’t forget."
Nearly a quarter-century later, his persistence finally paid off.
After posting what little he remembered of his hometown — a crude map with two bridges — to a Chinese website dedicated to "bringing lost babies home," Luo was informed that a couple who reported their son abducted 23 years ago lived in a small town in Sichuan matching the description he provided.
The South China Morning Post reports on what happened next:
Luo searched for pictures of the Sichuan town and found they looked familiar to him. To confirm his suspicions, he turned to the satellite version Google Maps. The minute he zoomed in on an area called “Yaojiaba” near the Sichuan town, Luo recognised the two bridges.
“That’s it! That’s my home,” shouted Luo, in tears.
Not long after, Luo — whose given name, it turns out, is Huang Jun — was finally reunited with his birth parents, Huang Qingyong and Dai Jianfang.
"I felt heartbroken," Luo's mother is quoted as saying. "I couldn't eat or sleep and I cried every day thinking my son was missing and didn't have enough food or clothes out there."
The Daily Telegraph cites the China Daily as reporting that some 76,000 Chinese children go missing each year, with as many as one million currently listed as lost.
[screengrabs via SCMP]