WELLINGTON, New Zealand – New Zealand authorities are searching for the mother of a 3-year-old girl whose father allegedly abandoned her before boarding a plane to the United States, police said.
The girl’s father was caught on a security video apparently leaving his daughter Saturday at the Southern Cross train station in the southern Australian city of Melbourne, said Inspector Brad Shallies of Melbourne police. Airline records show he flew to Los Angeles about two hours later, police said.
Police have identified the man as Xue Naiyin, 54, and said he lived in Auckland, New Zealand, with his wife and daughter.
New Zealand police have not been able to trace the girl’s mother, Anni Liu, 27, after visiting three addresses in Auckland, and fear for her safety, said Detective Inspector Dave Pearson.
The plight of the child, Qian Xun Xue, has been front page news in Australia and New Zealand.
Police believe Xue and Qian arrived in Melbourne on Thursday, both with New Zealand passports.
Security camera footage at the station shows Xue leading Qian onto the platform, then turning and taking an escalator, wheeling a suitcase behind him.
Police said he is the director of an Auckland publishing company called the Chinese Times One Group. No one at the company could immediately be reached for comment.
The girl is now in foster care, Shallies said.
Department of Human Services spokeswoman Chris Asquini said the child seemed happy but was asking for her mother.
“She has been speaking some English, predominantly asking for her mother – the carers have comforted her and she has readily accepted that comfort,” she said.
Australian police were working with their counterparts in the United States to find the father and said there was a possibility the girl may have some extended family in Australia.