10 Oct 2009

Plea for missing girl to be dropped off at hospital

10:59 am on 10 October 2009

Police searching for missing Auckland toddler Aisling Symes on Friday issued a plea for the person who took the girl to drop her off at a safe place - preferably a hospital.

The two-year-old was with her parents who were tidying up a property on Longburn Road in the suburb of Henderson when she disappeared about 5.30pm on Monday.

An extensive search of the area has failed to find any trace of her. Police say with each day that passes, it is looking increasingly likely that the girl has been abducted.

The officer in charge of the inquiry, Inspector Gary Davey, says if the girl is returned to a safe place, the chances of her survival are greatly improved.

Anyone who knows where Aisling Symes is, or who she is with, is urged to take the girl to any hospital in the Auckland region.

Meanwhile, police are still looking for an Asian woman seen with the girl on Monday afternoon. The woman is thought to be about 35 years old, with dark shoulder-length hair. She was walking a black and grey dog at the time.

A group of bilingual volunteers from the Asian community have been door-knocking in the area where the girl went missing.

National Party MP Pansy Wong says about 20 people who speak Punjabi, Korean, Mandarin or Cantonese have covered eight streets in the Longburn area.

Mrs Wong says they gained no information about the Asian woman sought, but have helped raise people's awareness of the missing girl.

Appeals are continuing through Asian radio stations, she says.

Parents tell of harrowing wait

The parents Aisling Symes have described the past few days as the most harrowing of their lives.

Alan and Angela Symes appeared at news conference on Thursday to appeal for anyone with information about their daughter to come forward.

Mr Symes said he and his wife had had no sleep over the past days and were barely existing as they waited for news of their daughter.

"Is she near us or has she been moved far away? Is she being treated well?

"These thoughts churn through us as we huddle close as a family and we try to wait to find out if there's anything," he said.

Mr Symes thanked the public, police, church members and the community of West Auckland for their support.

"The weight of our grief is supported and shared by all New Zealanders who have shown an extraordinary magnitude of care and empathy."

As the couple left the news conference, Angela Symes became deeply distressed.

The Press Association in Britain is reporting Kate and Gerry McCann, whose daughter Madeleine disappeared in Portugal in 2007, have offered their thoughts and prayers to Aisling Syme's parents.

Search continues

The number of police investigating the disapearance has been boosted to 60 officers.

Officers have been knocking on doors and tracking down known sex offenders as they hunt for whoever may have taken the child.

Inspector Gary Davey told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme it is important police do not close their minds to any scenario and have not ruled out the possibility of a planned abduction.

Police are also looking for reports of any suspicious behaviour during the previous few weeks.