ROME – An Italian cook is being praised for bringing milk to his 6-month-old daughter who was trapped inside one of the Mumbai hotels that came under attack.
Emanuele Lattanzi, a chef in the luxury Oberoi hotel, joined soldiers battling militants in the building to find his wife and daughter.
All major Italian dailies splashed front-page photos Saturday of Lattanzi carrying 6-month-old Clarice from the hotel on Friday.
Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini praised him for his "courageous act" and televisions repeatedly interviewed the shy and exhausted-looking cook.
Lattanzi told RAI state TV that he was working in the kitchen on Wednesday night when gunmen entered the Oberoi, one of 10 sites attacked across Mumbai. The restaurant staff and customers managed to escape through an emergency exit, but the chef soon realized his wife and daughter had been left behind because they were asleep in their room.
"I found myself outside the Oberoi and I immediately called my wife, who was still inside," Lattanzi said. "They wouldn't let me in, there was nothing I could do."
As the siege of the hotel continued for two days, Lattanzi received frantic text messages from his wife, who said she had no more milk to feed the child, and the cook pleaded to be let in with some powdered milk.
"They let me in (Friday) morning, covered by these soldiers," Lattanzi told RAI. "They escorted me to the door of the child's room."
Later in the day authorities said they had killed the last two gunmen in the Oberoi and Lattanzi walked out carrying the infant, still wearing the white chef's uniform he had on when the attack began.
"She is well, I had a pediatrician check her out," he said. "When I realized all three of us were safe I shed tears of joy."
One Italian, a 63-year-old businessman staying at the Oberoi, was killed in the attacks. A group of 19 Italians caught up in the shootings was flying back home Saturday.