Update 1.30pm: A desperate police search for a missing two-year-old girl ended in tragedy when her body was found by police divers overnight.
The girl was crabbing with her family under the Mandurah Estuary Bridge when she fell into the water about 8pm.
A wide search included three boats from the water police and Sea Search and Rescue, while police officers patrolled the shore.
The police dive squad arrived at 11.30pm and the girl’s body was discovered in the water about an hour later.
A police spokesman told ABC radio the girl’s family were from Perth and were visiting Mandurah when they decided to go crabbing.
“They were fishing and they noticed their two-and-a-half-year-old was missing,” he said.
“They began a frantic search but I understand they don’t speak much English and it was left up to a passerby to call police and alert police.
“A search began immediately but hopes were fading pretty quickly when she wasn’t found straight away.”
Saddened local residents have laid floral tributes near where the toddler went missing.
They did not know the child or her parents but wanted to show the family was in their thoughts. Many had raced to the popular crabbing spot last night to join the desperate search for the toddler after news spread on Facebook and other social media sites.
Nearby resident Heather Downs and a friend were among those who walked the shoreline with torches after the noise of a circling helicopter brought her to the estuary about 8.30pm.
She said a police officer told her the little girl was wearing a pink shirt or dress and a pink top.
The two women went home about 10.30pm and woke to the sad news that the toddler had been found dead.
"It’s a tragic thing and it was very distressing, everyone down here was really quite concerned and you felt ‘what can I do to help’," she said.
She said it was common for families to fish from the platform.
Locals said the current appeared strong last night and the water was murky.
When Ms Downs first came to help there were only a few other people but numbers quickly grew as word spread on Facebook through the local community.
Lisa Smart, who also joined the search, laid flowers today with her husband and two young daughters to show respect for the girl’s parents. "The little girl, she’s gone, right before Christmas," she said.
She said it was amazing how quickly the community had come to help. But police asked many to return home to keep the area clear for emergency services.
The divers who recovered the girl’s body will be offered counselling today.Police will prepare a report for the coroner.
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