Chinese girl, 12, found safe after airport disappearance

Ma Jinjing, who had been reported missing by her tour group in Washington, was found in the custody of her parents in New York City

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 August, 2018, 1:27pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 August, 2018, 4:33pm

A 12-year-old Chinese tourist has been found safe in New York a day after her tour group reported her missing from a Washington-area airport.

Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police said Ma Jinjing was found on Friday in the custody of her parents in Queens, New York.

Authority police Chief David Huchler said at a news conference on Friday that the girl had excused herself to go to the bathroom on Thursday after getting her passport at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

He said the girl met a woman, changed clothes and got into an SUV with New York tags.

Huchler said a couple had earlier approached Ma while her tour group was at the World Trade Center. He said there appeared to be a link between that couple and the people she met at the airport.

The Virginia State Police had issued an Amber alert on Thursday evening local time for Ma, after she went missing at the airport at 8.15am on Thursday local time.

She was wearing a white T-shirt, blue jeans and a black jacket when seen leaving the airport and boarding a white Infiniti SUV with a New York registration plate.

Ma had arrived in the US with a Chinese tour group on July 26, and had been sightseeing and looking at schools, authorities told The Washington Post.

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She received her passport just before checking in at the airport and CCTV footage shows she left her group soon afterwards.

She met an adult woman who helped her to change out of her clothes. Together they walked to the arrivals area, disappearing out of camera view, according to the alert.

An Amber alert, short for America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response, is a nationwide system used in the US and 20 other countries to look for missing children.

Huchler, the police chief, had said earlier on Friday that “For us, this is our priority number one. It’s of utmost importance.”

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The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to requests for comment.

Additional reporting by Associated Press