Romania’s police chief has been sacked over the kidnapping of a teenage girl that ended in her murder after they took nearly a day to track her calls and then delayed her rescue.

The girl, 15, reportedly called emergency services three times to say she had been beaten and raped by a man who had picked her up while she was hitchhiking.

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It took police 19 hours to find the victim – identified only by the name Alexandra.

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Her first call to police was just after 11am on Thursday, reported Romanian media, but her location was not identified until 3am the next morning.

Police then waited for three hours to enter the property while they obtained a search warrant – even thought it was not legally necessary.

The girl’s last words on the phone were “he’s coming, he’s coming”, said national police chief Ioan Buda.

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Romanian media quote witnesses as saying police found burned remains on the property in the southern city of Caracal, as well as pieces of clothing and jewellery.

Police suspect they belong to Alexandra and to an 18-year-old girl who went missing nearby in April.

The suspect, Gheorghe Dinca, 66, has been detained on suspicion of trafficking minors and rape.

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Police chief Ioan Buda was sacked by the interior minister on Friday night.

President Klaus Iohannis has criticised police for “mistakes and hesitations” and has warned of “harsh punishment” for everybody found to be at fault.

Romania’s prime minister, Viorica Dancila, said on Saturday that she is considering a referendum on harsher penalties for crimes such as murder and rape.

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