The incredible discovery of four-year-old Cleo Smith in Western Australia has gone global with her photo splashed across the front pages.
The incredible discovery of four-year-old Cleo Smith in Western Australia has gone global with the first photo of the little girl being splashed across the front pages from Seoul to Scotland.
Cleo was found by police in the early hours of Wednesday morning just seven minutes from her home after she disappeared from a remote part of the state 18 days ago. Police involved have described the moment they found her as one of the best moments of their career.
A subsequent photo of Cleo in a hospital bed was seen across TV and websites across the world and then footage of her rescue sent the story soaring across screens.
The BBC’s Missing girl found alive weeks after vanishing was the most read story of the day, behind Republican Glenn Youngkin’s election as Virginia’s next governor and the T20 World Cup.
And at a time when climate change, Covid and China are dominating world headlines, readers were keen for some good news, with ITV’s Ken Goodwin in Gloucestershire describing it as “the ultimate happy ending”.
The British press were particularly interested in the story, with UK tabloids leaning into the phrase: “‘Aussie Madeline McCann”.
McCann is a British toddler who went missing while on holiday with her family in Portugal in 2007. She is yet to be found.
The Sun splashed with images of Cleo with the headlines “A MIRACLE” accompanying quotes from McCann top cop Jim Gamble on the case.
Over at the Evening Standard, Cleo was top of page, alongside live coverage of the COP26 summit. Missing 4-year-old found alive in Australia as man arrested, read the headline.
The Standard’s Royal Editor Robert Johnson posted Daily Mail UK’s version, sold on the “Incredible moment ‘Australia’s Maddie’ Cleo Smith, four, is rescued by police”.
The UK’s Telegraph covered the story extensively, with headlines like How the search unfolded and Community ‘beyond relieved’.
British morning TV was also heavily focused on Cleo, with one BBC Breakfast presenter gripped at the footage of Detective Senior Sergeant Cameron Blaine.
Blaine had earlier revealed officers raided a property in Carnarvon, a coastal town 900 kilometres from Perth, around 1am on Wednesday morning, finding Cleo alone inside.
Detective Senior Sergeant Blaine told reporters he was in shock at first but that feeling “quickly followed by elation, obviously”, when he realised it was Cleo.
“Wow,” host Sally Nugent told the BBC’s Shaimaa Khalil. “A real sense of mission accomplished.”
“It has captured Australia’s heart from the moment she was announced missing to the moment that she was announced alive and well and rescued,” Khalil continued. “This is a huge moment of relief … an outcome that the family, the police and the whole country has hoped for”.
7 News Australia’s Ben Downie told the show about the moments the four-year-old was reunited with her parents.
“It a small town in rural West Australia,” Downie said as he described Carnarvon.
“Very rarely do you get to sit outside a crime scene and report on something nice,” he said.
The New York Times meanwhile interviewed associate professor of criminology at the University of Newcastle, Xanthe Mallett, for its piece, ‘My Name Is Cleo’: Girl, 4, Is Found 18 Days After Vanishing From Campsite who revealed just how rare it is for a missing child to be found.
“The likelihood of her being recovered alive was very low and getting lower as the days passed,” said Prof Mallett.
“For a child to be taken and found well after nearly 19 days, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this kind of outcome.”
Cleo’s story, Girl, 4, who was ‘snatched from camping tent’ weeks ago is back with family, was among the most read on NBC News.
“The disappearance had captivated the nation,” the story reads.
Similarly, on CBS: “Police smashed their way into a suburban house on Wednesday and rescued a 4-year-old girl whose disappearance from her family’s camping tent on Australia’s remote west coast more than two weeks ago both horrified and captivated the nation.”
The four-year-old appeared atop CNN’s homepage with the headline: Four-year-old girl found alive weeks after vanishing from remote Australia campsite, and was on rotation across CNN News. “The case led to a nationwide search,” it said, citing Ellie Smith’s Instagram post: “Our family is whole again”.
Cleo was allegedly taken from the family tent while camping at Quobba Blowholes in Macleod, in Western Australia’s north, on October 16.
A 36-year-old man has been taken into custody and is being questioned by police.
Lead investigator Detective Superintendent Rod Wilde told reporters police did not have any other suspects in the case.
“It appears as though it was opportunistic,” he said.