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A four-year-old child with autism, who was missing in the remote Central Australian desert for more than 24 hours, has been found following an extensive air and land search.
In a statement, Northern Territory Police said the young girl was currently undergoing health checks but “appears well”.
The search mission ended with a sigh of relief at 4pm on Saturday, after the girl went missing from a remote outstation in Central Australia yesterday afternoon.
The child was last seen by family around 2pm on Friday at the isolated Alice Well Outstation, near Titjikala, about 150 kilometres south-east of Alice Springs.
NT Police launched drones and deployed search dogs and patrol vehicles to scour the arid region.
A tracker from the nearby remote Indigenous community of Titjikala was also brought in and was able to locate the child’s tracks tracing about 1.8 kilometres from where she was last seen.
The search proceeded into Friday night to no avail and resumed early this morning with the addition of a helicopter.
With temperatures soaring to about 32 degrees Celsius, Acting Superintendent Michael Potts said police were “extremely concerned”.
“Our biggest concern at the moment is that the young four-and-a-half-year-old girl is autistic and she has some hearing difficulties and some speech difficulties,” he said in the hours before police said they were able to locate the child.
“Autistic children, unfortunately, have no real sense of being lost and basically what’s happening at the moment is she’s going to be wandering aimlessly in the bush environment.”
Acting Superintendent Potts said due to the remote location of the search, further details were yet to be confirmed.
“Northern Territory Police would like to thank everyone involved in the search. Significant resources were deployed to assist in the operation,” he said.
“It’s a huge relief for everyone involved.”