US & Canada

FBI find car linked to kidnapped Chinese student Yingying Zhang

Zhang Image copyright FBI
Image caption Zhang disappearing after getting into a man's car on 9 June

The FBI is investigating the suspected abduction of a Chinese graduate student in the US state of Illinois.

Yingying Zhang was probably kidnapped on 9 June after she entered a black Saturn Astra that appeared to be driven by a white man, the FBI said.

The 26-year-old agricultural sciences student was about six weeks into her studies when she went missing at the University of Illinois.

Rewards totalling $50,000 (£39,000) have been offered for her safe return.

Police have released CCTV video showing the student getting into the car at the campus, about 150 miles (240km) from Chicago, at 14:04 local time.

The vehicle "appeared to driven by a white male, and circled the area prior to making contact with Zhang", the FBI said in a kidnapping bulletin.

Image copyright FBI
Image caption The FBI suspect she was kidnapped

On Tuesday, FBI investigators announced they have located the vehicle after receiving "numerous leads" from the public.

FBI spokesman Brad Ware declined to say where the car was found, or provide any details about the apparent breakthrough.

"We have developed several additional leads and would like to remind the public that this is still an active investigation," the agency said in a statement.

The Chinese Deputy Consul General in Chicago, Yu Peng, said after the car was discovered: "The Consulate General of The People's Republic of China in Chicago has been in close contact with [the university], police department and FBI."

Image copyright FBI
Image caption Zhang was planning to seek her PhD, the university said

The graduate of Beijing's prestigious Peking University went missing moments after getting off a bus on her way to sign an apartment lease.

She had been researching plant photosynthesis and was planning to seek her PhD in the autumn, according to the university.

Police say they are working with taxi-hailing companies Uber and Lyft, hoping they will be able to help determine the driver's identity.

The University of Illinois campus at Urbana-Champaign is home to 5,629 Chinese students, CNN reports, a fivefold increase since 2008.

Ms Zhang's case has attracted huge amounts of attention in her home country.

A WeChat messaging group has been set up there to share details about the case, which is trending on Chinese social media.

Many Chinese speakers have also donated money and left messages of support on a crowdfunding page which was set up to help her family with "expenses incurred as the search for her continues".

That fundraiser has already raised more than treble its goal of $30,000.

Her father has travelled from Nanping to do whatever he can to assist in the investigation, US media report.

A University of Illinois student march is planned for Thursday to show support for the missing student.