19 Mar 2009

Inquiries begin into woman giving birth on plane

10:11 pm on 19 March 2009

New Zealand authorities are investigating how a Samoan woman who gave birth on an international flight was allowed to board the plane, before possibly abandoning the baby.

The Pacific Blue flight carrying 150 passengers took off from the Samoan capital Apia and landed in Auckland, New Zealand, at 5.20am on Thursday.

Airport police in Auckland were only informed 90 minutes later that the newborn had been found on the plane.

Police say the baby was found in a toilet cubicle and are investigating whether the baby was abandoned.

No explanation has been given for the apparent delay between landing and advising police, or why police suspect the baby was abandoned.

The airline says its staff did not notice anyone who looked pregnant on the flight.

The New Zealand Immigration Service has called in staff in Apia to help piece together details and wants to know what was declared on the woman's visa application and whether she looked pregnant.

The woman had surgery at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital on Thursday for what has been revealed as a difficult birth, but police say her prognosis is good. The baby is said to be doing well.

Police are investigating the incident and say the mother is likely to be in hospital for some days.

The Child, Youth and Family agency has been notified and says it is carrying out an investigation. The agency will work with medical staff and police to determine the baby's future.