Abandoned toddler sparks three-nation police hunt

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MELBOURNE, Sep 18 (Reuters) Police in three countries are hunting for the parents of a little girl in a red jacket nicknamed ''Pumpkin'' after she was abandoned at an Australian railway station.

Staff at the main country railway station in the southern city of Melbourne found three-year-old New Zealand toddler Qian Xun Xue crying and alone on Saturday.

Security images showed Xue being led by a man police believe was her father, Nai Zin Xue, who left the station without his daughter to catch a flight to the United States.

''The girl remains calm and composed. Sometimes she spikes in emotions when she wakes up and mum's not there but the carers settle her back into a routine,'' Victorian state police inspector Brad Shallies told Australian television today.

The girl is being looked after by a foster family in Victoria.

The case attracted blanket media coverage in Australia and New Zealand as authorities attempted to identify the toddler, who was dubbed ''Pumpkin'' after the Pumpkin Patch brand of clothing she was wearing when she was found.

Police later identified the girl and her father, a 54-year-old magazine publisher who had moved to New Zealand from China about 10 years ago. The pair had arrived in Australia last Thursday on a flight from Auckland.

It was not immediately known how police identified the girl and her father.

Australian police were working with police in New Zealand and the United States to try to find her parents.

Police in Auckland said they had looked unsuccessfully for the child's mother, Anan Liu, known as Annie, for the past three days and were now gravely concerned about her safety.

''You can jump to all sorts of conclusions, but there are concerns we haven't heard from her, so yes the inquiry is being ramped up considerably,'' Detective Inspector Dave Pearson, told the NZ Press Association.

New Zealand lawmaker Pansy Wong said Xue was an active member of the Chinese community, and his wife was a very private person.

''The mother and daughter are obviously very close. She is very sweet,'' Wong said.

REUTERS SS DS1235

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