UPDATE: A note to Sideshow readers - I've been reaching out to various sources to get some more information on this story. It sounds almost too good to be true. I've been in touch with representatives for the Costa Concordia who are reaching out to those involved in the rescue and salvage efforts. I'll continue to update this story as more information comes in.
Italian rescue divers returned to the site of the shipwrecked cruise ship Costa Concordia for an unusual rescue mission this week: retrieving a lost teddy bear for a young boy who was on the downed ship and says he hasn't been able to sleep without his furry companion since the incident. The operation was successful, the Telegraph reports.
And unlike some other too-good-to-be-true Costa Concordia stories that we've debunked for you here at the Sideshow, this one is entirely real.
It's very touching, but one might ask whether a boy's toy animal really deserves this priority when there are still missing bodies yet to be recovered inside the doomed vessel, which crashed nearly a month ago. But the Telegraph reports that the special rescue mission may have been just as good for the team of rescue divers as it was for the boy.
The divers say this mission was a welcome change of pace from the somber scouting missions to look for dead bodies still trapped underwater inside the wrecked craft. Weeks of bad weather have limited access to the ship's hull. When a reprieve from the stormy conditions offered the rescue divers a window of opportunity, they seized it.
And while divers were able to rescue the teddy bear, the same cannot be said for the Costa Concordia itself, which is expected to remain wrecked at sea for several more months. The weather conditions have been so bad recently that recovery crews had to postpone their efforts to remove the leftover oil from the Concordia. You can watch video of the stormy conditions here:
And how did operation Rescue Teddy come about? Weeks after the ship wrecked, the unnamed boy's father said his son was still traumatized by the incident and the thought of leaving his favorite teddy bear behind has been keeping him up at night. So, the boy's father wrote to residents of the Italian island who had given him and other survivors a place to stay after the accident. In turn, they passed the letter to the island's mayor Sergio Ortelli, who got it to the rescue divers.
The teddy bear was still in the boy's cabin, where the divers found it in a tangled pile of debris. It has since been returned to the boy in his Italian hometown of Verona, where he is presumably sleeping much better now.