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 / Updated  / Source: NBC News

A state transportation crew found human remains in a suitcase Thursday along a highway near Salt Lake City, Utah, authorities said, stressing that it was too early to know whether the remains were those of Elizabeth Elena Salgado, the Provo woman who's been the subject of a national missing persons alert since last week.

The state Transportation Department said the crew was installing a cable barrier along Interstate 80 near the Saltair Resort on the shore of the Great Salt Lake when a worker spotted the suitcase about 2:45 p.m. (4:45 p.m. ET). The worker called the state Highway Patrol and discovered the body inside when the trooper arrived.

State Bureau of Investigations Lt. Jared Garcia told reporters Thursday night that the body was too badly decomposed to immediately confirm its age or sex. But police in Provo, about 30 miles south of Salt Lake City, told the Deseret News and NBC station KSL that they were working with state agents to determine whether it is that of Salgado, 26, who was last seen April 16 near a Provo language school.

Salgado's parents arrived Wednesday in Utah from Mexico to help search for their daughter, whom hundreds of volunteers have been looking for since she disappeared.

Elena Salgado, 26, of Provo, Utah, has been missing since April 16.Utah State Bureau of Investigations

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