• Kyodo

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A body found beside a Kobe river Thursday morning was later identified as that of an 8-year-old girl missing since Sunday, police said.

The body, found beside the Arino River around 8 a.m., is that of third-grader Saki Miyazaki, who was reported missing after she left her house around 10 p.m. Sunday, police said.

Blood was found on the body, and police are investigating the case as a possible accident or crime. An autopsy performed later Thursday showed that the girl had sustained injuries consistent with those resulting from a collision with a motor vehicle.

As the river is a long way from any roads and there is no place upstream where a child could fall in, investigators said it is highly likely that she was left at the riverside after being hit by a car.

Police said that, pending further investigation, they will treat the incident as a hit-and-run.

According to investigations, Saki, the second daughter of Hiroe Miyazaki, 38, a part-time employee in Kobe’s Kita Ward, had told her 12-year-old sister she was going to fetch their mother but never returned. Saki lived with her mother and sister.

Police said Miyazaki requested a search the following day.

Police said the body was found about 2.5 km north of Karatodai Station, on a line operated by Kobe Electric Railway Co., which was where Saki was last seen.

A woman who knows Saki talked to the girl at the station at about 11 p.m. Sunday. The girl reportedly said she was waiting for her mother.

The woman said she told the girl not to go off with any strangers.

The station where the girl was last seen is about 400 meters from the Miyazaki home.

The dead girl had a fractured arm and external abrasions, investigations showed.

Police were alerted to the body by a female college student, through her mother. The student had seen what looked like a body by the river from a train on her way to school.

The child’s mother broke down in tears upon hearing that the body had been positively identified as her daughter’s, while her younger sister said it was unlikely that the child could have committed suicide.

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