New Zealand police investigate newborn left on plane

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The Independent Online

A woman who allegedly abandoned her newborn child after giving birth on an international flight from Samoa may face criminal charges, New Zealand police said today.

Police are inquiring into "the alleged ... abandonment of the child by the mother" after the flight landed in New Zealand yesterday, police communications manager Ana-Mari Gates-Bowey said.

"Police are currently investigating the mother's actions after the birth of the child," she said in a statement. "A likelihood of this investigation is a criminal prosecution."

Initial media reports suggested the mother left the baby in a bathroom waste bin on the Pacific Blue plane carrying 150 passengers; others said she was spotted with bloodied clothes in an immigration line. Police have declined to comment on the reports.

The 30-year-old woman, believed to be a Samoan national, got off the aircraft at Auckland International airport early yesterday without flight attendants knowing she had given birth.

Gates-Bowey said late yesterday the woman had undergone surgery at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital and was later reunited with her baby. Its gender has not been disclosed.

"We are relieved to have been informed that both mother and child are reunited, are well and are now being looked after in hospital," Pacific Blue said in a statement yesterday.

Immigration officials are investigating what information the woman provided on her visa application and how she boarded the airplane at such an advanced stage of pregnancy, spokesman Rowan Saker said.