CHENGDU: A taxi driver in China who spent 24 years searching for his daughter after she went missing at the age of three was finally reunited with her on Tuesday (Apr 3), according to local media reports.
Wang Mingqing and his wife Liu Dengying were working as fruit sellers in Sichuan's capital Chengdu in 1994 when their toddler Qifeng disappeared.
On the day Qifeng went missing, Wang had ran out of change and briefly went to a neighbouring stall to change money for a customer. When he returned, his daughter was nowhere to be found, reported local news outlets.
“For the next six months, I would walk and my husband would ride his bike as we looked for her. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack,” Liu said in an interview.
The couple, who have another daughter and son, reportedly spent years searching for her in the city and surrounding areas. They also had advertisements printed in newspapers and set up online appeals, reported the BBC.
In 2015, Wang became a driver with ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing in hopes of broadening the search.
He placed a large sign on his rear window and gave out business cards with information on Qifeng to his passengers. According to Chinese media, as Wang did not have a picture of Qifeng he used a picture of his other daughter in leaflets as they looked similar.
Chinese police previously identified several women who could have been Qifeng, but DNA tests proved otherwise.
Local newspapers then picked up Wang's story and it eventually caught the attention of the national broadcaster China Central Television.
A breakthrough came in late 2017 when a police sketch artist wanted to help Wang and drew a portrait of what Qifeng might look like as an adult, reported the BBC.
The picture, which was circulated online, caught the attention of a woman in Jilin - a province thousands of kilometres from Sichuan province.
The 27-year-old contacted Wang and found that she shared similar unusual traits with his missing daughter - a small scar on her forehead and a tendency to get nauseous when she cried.
A DNA test was done and the result was positive.
The pair were reunited when the woman flew to Chengdu with her husband, son and daughter.
"The whole world told me I didn't have a mother - but I do!" she told reporters during the reunion.
"I can't tell you how much hope, disappointment and despair we have gone through these past 24 years. Now we can finally meet again," said Wang, as reported by the Beijing Youth Daily newspaper.