When a mechanic in a garage in France opened the boot of a car brought in for repairs, he found a naked, malnourished and dehydrated child, lying in her own excrement.
The girl, believed to be aged between 15 and 23 months, might have been hidden there since birth, reported The Guardian. Her birth was not registered.
Garage workers told French television TF1 that a Portuguese woman brought the car in last week.
When the workers heard sounds coming from the boot, they asked the woman if she had a dog or cat in there.
She told them it was probably a child's electronic toy.
When the mechanic opened the boot he found the girl "gasping for air", and the "smell was overwhelming".
Mr Guillaume Iguacel, one of the mechanics, said: "I'm still having trouble sleeping. It's horrifying, seeing this little girl in her own excrement, not able to hold up her head, white as a sheet."
He said the woman appeared to have little concern for her daughter, The Telegraph reported.
He said: "We were deeply shocked because she didn't find this abnormal. We told her to remove the little girl and give her something to drink right away."
Neighbours of the woman, 45, and her partner, a Portugese man, 40, were shocked at news of the discovery.
A neighbour, known only as Pascale, told French daily Le Parisien: "We had the impression that this woman lived in her car... I recall seeing her several times a week with her car parked in a little lot about 200 metres from her house but we couldn't see what she was doing in the boot."
The couple have been charged with child abuse and neglect and face up to 10 years in jail if convicted.
Social services have taken into care their three other children - a four-year-old girl and two boys aged nine and 10.
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