Homicide probe after baby dies

Christchurch's tight-knit Fijian Indian community is looking to rally around the parents of a 1-year-old baby girl who died after suffering serious head injuries while in the care of a babysitter.

A homicide investigation has been launched after the infant died at Christchurch Hospital, with her parents at her bedside, shortly before 8.30pm yesterday.

Today, the Christchurch Fiji Association was shocked to learn that the family involved was of Fijian Indian heritage.

Spokesman Vinesh Prakash said they were phoning around to check if anyone knew them and to see if they could provide the distraught parents any support. He said it was a small, tight-knit community in Christchurch.

"Usually we know one another, but we haven't heard who these people are yet," Mr Prakash said.

"Maybe they are new faces to the community. We would like to offer them support if we can."

Police launched a major investigation after the girl was admitted to Christchurch Hospital on Tuesday night by her regular babysitter with assistance from her neighbour.

Detective Senior Sergeant Scott Anderson said they were now treating the death as a homicide.

A post-mortem examination was due to be carried out today.

Blue-suited forensic experts spent yesterday searching a flat in Worcester St, Linwood.

A large blue tent has been erected in the front yard.

Today, they could be seen taking samples from the flat's window frames.

It's expected the scene examination at the property -- and at another address in the city that police have not disclosed -- will be completed today.

Mr Anderson said officers were working with the baby's parents, who were understandably upset at the tragic loss of their child.

The family had requested privacy while they grieve.

Mr Anderson said police were not in a position to make any further comment and would not speculate on the outcome of the ongoing investigation.

"When police are in a position to make further comment another media release will be made."

Neighbours are shock over the incident. They said a Fijian-Indian couple moved there less than two months ago.

A cuddly toy and a bouquet of flowers were left at the scene by one neighbour this morning.

- Kurt Bayer of NZME. News Service

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