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Found: Message In A Bottle From Manchester Bombing Victim's Mother


A mother sent a message for her daughter killed in the 2017 terrorist attack in Manchester, England. And that message has been found in Italy. NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports on the bottle that washed ashore after crossing some 2,500 miles of water.

SYLVIA POGGIOLI, BYLINE: A few days ago, a man cleaning a coastal area in Puglia, the heel of the Italian boot, picked up a bottle floating along the rocky shore. Sealed with cork and wax, the bottle held a photograph of Sorrell Leczkowski and a message written by her mother.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: (Reading) Your absence is a pain in the heart that never leaves. The moment you died, my heart broke up in two. One piece is full of grief. The other died with you.

POGGIOLI: Sorrell was 14 years old when she died in a suicide bomb attack in the Manchester Arena after an Ariana Grande day concert on May 22, 2017. The teenager, along with her mother and grandmother, had gone to the arena to pick up her little sister. As the crowds were leaving, the suicide bomber, 22-year-old Salman Abedi, detonated a device. It killed Sorrell and 21 other people and injured more than a hundred, including Sorrell's mother and grandmother.

Abedi was a Manchester native of Libyan descent, believed by investigators to have been radicalized in Libya. ISIS later claimed responsibility for what was one of Britain's deadliest terrorist attacks.

The sealed bottle was presumably tossed off the British coast. Thanks to winds and waves in the Atlantic Ocean, it was buffeted southward along the French, Spanish and Portuguese coasts. Ocean currents then pushed it eastward through the Straits of Gibraltar and into the Mediterranean Sea before it washed ashore on the southeastern coast of Italy.

The bottle was brought to Lorenzo Ricchiuti, mayor of the nearest town, Morciano di Leuca. He wants to invite the Leczkowski family to Italy so he can give them the bottle. Inside, there's also a purple rubber bracelet with two hearts - Sorrell's name and her date of birth. Italian media report the mayor hopes the mother will toss the bottle back into the sea so that it can continue to wander across the world delivering its message of love and sorrow.

Sylvia Poggioli, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sylvia Poggioli is senior European correspondent for NPR's International Desk covering political, economic, and cultural news in Italy, the Vatican, Western Europe, and the Balkans. Poggioli's on-air reporting and analysis have encompassed the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, the turbulent civil war in the former Yugoslavia, and how immigration has transformed European societies.