A man dumped his three-year-old daughter at a train station in Australia during a bizarre flight across at least three countries.
Australian police said they believe Xue Naiyin, a Chinese-language magazine publisher in New Zealand, went to the United States after dumping his daughter in the southern Australian city of Melbourne on Saturday.
Qian Xun Xue was found standing alone and confused at the Southern Cross train station, and officials nicknamed her "pumpkin" after the brand of children's clothing she was wearing, until she was identified on Monday.
An international police operation has been piecing together what happened to the girl, whose plight has been front page news in Australia and New Zealand.
Police say Qian and her father left New Zealand's northern city of Auckland - where the family had lived since 2002 and where Xue, 54, is the director of the Chinese Times One Group - last Thursday and flew to Melbourne.
On Saturday, security camera footage showed a man, believed by police to be Xue, leading Qian by the hand through the train station, then leaving her at the foot of an escalator as he ascended, wheeling a suitcase.
Airline records show Xue boarded a flight to Los Angeles about two hours later, police said.
New Zealand police have not been able to find the girl's mother, Anni Liu, 27, at the family's home or at other properties, and are suspicious she may have come to harm because she has not contacted them about her daughter. They are examining a car found at Auckland's airport.
"We have grave concerns for her safety," Detective Senior Sergeant Simon Scott told reporters. He refused to speculate further on Liu's fate.
Police had been called to the home in the past year about "family violence incidents," he said.
Inspector Brad Shallies of Australia's Victoria state police said U.S. authorities and Interpol had joined the search for Xue, and that many possible explanations remained for his behavior.
"We are not flagging him as a danger at present," Shallies told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.
The girl was in temporary foster care in Melbourne.
"She 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," Shallies said.