SINGAPORE - It was every parent's nightmare. For 24 hours after he discovered his 11-year-old daughter had gone missing on Monday (Sept 30), one father's world went into a tailspin as he feared the worst.
But many strangers came forward to give him support and his daughter was eventually found with her 11-year-old friend at Seletar Mall on Tuesday evening.
"I felt the whole of Singapore was messaging and helping me," the father, who wanted to be known only as Mr Syed, told The Straits Times.
"Complete strangers were sending their prayers and giving me confidence that Singapore is safe and we will find (my daughter and her friend) shortly."
Mr Syed, who works in the IT industry, had not seen his daughter, the younger of his two children, since 7am on Monday, when she presumably left for school. After calling the school, he learnt that she and her best friend had not shown up for class.
On Tuesday, family, friends, neighbours and other Singaporeans responded to Mr Syed's call for help and joined the search for the missing girls with him.
The police also appealed for information on the two missing girls, with pictures of them, one of whom was in a Fernvale Primary School uniform.
The appeal made the rounds online but an online rumour surfaced that the girls had gone missing in an attempt to not take the Primary School Leaving Examination.
However, this was untrue, since Mr Syed confirmed that they were in Primary 5 and not currently taking the national exams.
Much to his relief, the pair were eventually found in Seletar Mall by their schoolmates at about 4pm, and a picture of them was shared on Facebook. Mr Syed was soon called into Ang Mo Kio police station to pick up his daughter.
He said the girls were simply looking for an adventure together and had gone to different malls to eat and explore, travelling as far as VivoCity and Changi Airport.
Asked where the girls had slept overnight, he declined to comment.
For Mr Syed, the ordeal showed him a compassionate side of Singaporeans. He said: "There were so many people who supported us through the whole thing and I want to thank them all. They gave us hope and we were overwhelmed with the warmth of all these Singaporeans and the police."