Human remains found in two suitcases bought at auction in New Zealand contained the bodies of two young children, detectives have said.
The bodies had probably been in storage for several years and the victims were thought to have been aged between five and 10 when they died, they said.
Items found with the cases are being studied in an attempt to identify them.
The remains were found when a family in South Auckland opened the suitcases at home after buying them last week.
The children were concealed in two suitcases of similar size, Detective Inspector Tofilau Faamanuia Vaaelua said.
“The nature of this discovery provides some complexities to the investigation especially given the time lapsed between the time of death and the time of discovery,” he added.
As well as using personal and household items found alongside the cases in a bid to identify the dead children, police are checking hours of CCTV footage. But they fear key moments may have been erased because of the length of time that has elapses.
Det Insp Vaaleua said police in New Zealand were working with international criminal police agency Interpol, though relatives of the victims are thought to be in the country.
“This is no easy investigation,” Det Insp Vaaelua said.
“What I can say is we are making very good progress with DNA inquiries.
It is understood the family who found the bodies had gone to the storage unit and purchased a trailer-load of goods, including the suitcases, from a local storage company last Thursday.
Det Insp Vaaelua reiterated they had no connection to the deaths, were distressed and were being offered support.
Both the storage unit and property where the suitcases were taken to have been thoroughly examined by forensic experts.