Missing toddler found drowned in New Zealand drain

DPA , WELLINGTON

Wed, Oct 14, 2009 - Page 5

A two-year-old New Zealand girl whose body was found in a storm drain a week after she disappeared drowned and had no evidence of injury, police said yesterday.

Results of a post-mortem appeared to confirm that Aisling Symes died accidentally and ruled out foul play, news reports said.

The body of the girl, who police suspected was kidnapped after she disappeared on Oct. 5, was recovered on Monday evening after diggers with concrete-cutting equipment were called in.

Police said they had inspected the drain — about 20m from the place in the Auckland suburb of Henderson where she disappeared — several times earlier, including with a camera, but had not found her.

The girl had been reportedly chasing ducklings near a stream before she disappeared as her parents worked on a family house.

Reports said a resident had complained to the local council that heavy rains lifted a 20kg manhole cover over the drain two weeks before the girl disappeared, saying it was potentially dangerous to children. Her body was found 36m from the manhole, having apparently been swept down the drain by rain.

Neighbors were asking how a child missing for a week and feared taken by kidnappers could be found only meters from where she disappeared, the New Zealand Herald reported.