Nine-year-old stowaway travels 1,000km underneath a truck to escape from home

Simone McCarthy
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Nine-year-old stowaway travels 1,000km underneath a truck to escape from home

A nine-year-old boy hid for eight hours in the undercarriage of a moving 18-wheeler truck before being discovered when the driver stopped at a factory.

The boy, who was running away from his village in eastern Hunan province, rode 1,000km overnight perched on a pole near the rear axle of the truck, according to a report from local outlet Xiaoxiang Morning News.

Once discovered, the child refused to come out from his hiding place, despite urging from a group of factory employees. He was eventually brought out by workers, and emerged covered in grease and soot, refusing to say who he was or where he had climbed aboard.

Local police in Miluo city, Hunan took the boy into custody and began searching for his family. The child eventually gave his nickname, Xiaoneng, and the phone number and surname of his father.

Authorities were also reportedly contacted by a local schoolteacher who recognised the boy on news reports.

It appears Xiaoneng crawled into the truck’s undercarriage during a stop in Chenzhou city around 11pm on Saturday night. He rode through the night as the truck coasted north along the highway and made several rest stops, before being discovered at around 7am the next morning.

Local news reports describe Xiaoneng as the child of divorced parents who lives weekdays with his grandmother while his father works outside their village.

This is a common phenomenon in rural China, where 61 million rural children live without one or both of their parents, according to 2013 data from the All-China Women’s Federation.

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These families are separated as job opportunities draw parents to the cities, while grandparents are often charged with child-rearing. 

“Maybe it’s because he lacks maternal love,” the boy’s father told local media. “He’s lonely.”

He said this was not the first time Xiaoneng had tried to run away, and said his latest escape may have been sparked after he lost his temper at Xiaoneng when the boy killed his grandmother’s duck on Saturday night.

Xiaoneng was escorted by local police back to his hometown on Monday afternoon.

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