"Not many people or cars pass by, and it gets totally dark as there are no lights. It’s not surprising to encounter bears anywhere in the area." That's one local's rather intimidating description of the Japanese mountain forest where a 7-year-old has now been missing since 4pm Saturday after his parents left him alone briefly as punishment for throwing rocks, reports CNN. Yamato Tanooka hasn't been seen since his parents say they left him for roughly five minutes in the woods and returned to find him gone. The Guardian reports that a 180-person search party on the northern island of Hokkaido was combing the area, which has been expanded; dogs and horses have joined the search as well.
One thing that search teams did reportedly find: fresh bear droppings. Yamato had no food or water on him, and was wearing a T-shirt, jeans, and a jacket when he went missing, reports the AFP. Sunday night saw heavy rain and temperatures that fell to 44 degrees; Australia's ABC News says heavy rain is again expected Tuesday night. Whether the parents will be charged with neglect remains unclear. The boy's father, Takayuki Tanooka, tells TV reporters that what he and his wife did was "an unforgivable thing ... I just hope he is safe." (This story of a missing boy had a happy ending.)