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‘My name is Cleo’ – Australian girl who disappeared during family camping trip found safe after 18 days as man is held


Cleo Smith

Cleo Smith

Cleo Smith

A man was arrested after police in Australia found a four-year-old girl alive 18 days after she went missing.

Cleo Smith vanished during a family camping trip in Western Australia state.

A man from Carnarvon was in custody being questioned by detectives but no charges have yet been laid, local media reported last night.

“It’s my privilege to announce that in the early hours of this morning, the Western Australia Police Force rescued Cleo Smith. Cleo is alive and well,” Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch said.

“A police team broke their way into a locked house in Carnarvon about 1am. They found little Cleo in one of the rooms.

“One of the officers picked her up into his arms and asked her ‘what’s your name?’

“She said – ‘My name is Cleo’. Cleo was reunited with her parents a short time later.

“I want to thank Cleo’s parents, the Western Australian community and the many volunteers. And of course, I want to thank my colleagues in the Western Australia Police Force.

“We’ll have more to say on the rescue of Cleo as the day unfolds. For now – welcome home, Cleo.”

Earlier, detectives had said they believed it was “more than likely” that Cleo was abducted in an “opportunistic type event”.

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Police offered a $1m (€640,000) reward for information about the little girl who officials had suspected was snatched from a tent at the remote coastal location.

Cleo was reportedly last seen by her parents at 1.30am on Saturday, October 16, at the Blowholes Shacks campsite near the town of Carnarvon, about 900km north of the Western Australia state capital, Perth.

The search initially focused on the ocean on the assumption that she had wandered from the tent.

But police said her tent’s zip was opened by someone taller than the child.

“The positioning of that zipper for the flap is one of the circumstances that caused us to have grave concerns for Cleo’s safety,” said Western Australia Police inspector Jon Munday.

The case drew parallels with the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, the three-year-old British girl who vanished while on holiday with her family in Portugal in 2007.

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