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Delliehausen - A three-year-old girl survived a high-speed ride clinging to the outside of a van driven by her absent-minded grandfather, police in Germany said on Friday.

Astonished motorists saw the child standing on the van's back step and hanging on to a door handle as the vehicle revved at up to 80km/h through hill roads near Delliehausen, in northern Germany.

Police gave chase and pulled the van over 18km later, just as the driver's boss reached him by cellphone and ordered him to stop.

The child, who has not been named by police, was cheerful and unfazed as she hopped off.

Police said the grandfather, 61, had been playing with her before the drive and had not noticed her climbing on the step.

“He never suspected she was there,” a spokeswoman said. - Sapa-dpa