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Search for missing mother and baby after umbilical cord found near river

By Hilary Whiteman, CNN

Brisbane, Australia (CNN) — The discovery of an umbilical cord and placenta in muddy mangroves near an Australian river has sparked a major police search for a mother and baby amid fears for their health.

A man walking his dog stumbled upon human blood and what appeared to be the remains of a recent birth late Monday on the banks of the Cooks River in western Sydney, according to New South Wales police.

Police divers were searching the river and dogs would be deployed, Detective Chief Superintendent Christine McDonald said Tuesday, as she appealed for information from anyone who may have seen a “distressed woman or pregnant woman” in the area.

“Childbirth for many people can be a traumatic time and it can be very distressing. I am deeply concerned for the safety and the mental health of the mother and also for the safety of her baby,” she said.

A forensic pathologist was examining the placenta and cord as a priority, McDonald said, which could determine the gender of the baby.

But it’s unclear when and where the child was born, and how old the infant was at birth, said McDonald.

“The gestation period is unknown. How long it was down by the river is unknown. So, there’s a lot of unknowns at the moment,” she said.

“That’s why we’re asking anyone with information to please help us with this investigation because we do have extreme concern for a mother and her baby. And we want it resolved quickly.”

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