Authorities are investigating how two severed human legs came to be left at an Australian city rubbish dump.

New South Wales state police said in a statement on Thursday an employee of the Summerhill Waste Management Center in Newcastle noticed the legs protruding from a pile of general trash on Tuesday afternoon.

"It appears that the legs were surgically removed and may have ended up there by mistake," the statement said.

Police removed the legs for forensic examination from the dump, which is operated by the city of Newcastle, 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of Sydney.

A police spokeswoman could not say whether the legs were from the same person.

The state government environment agency is investigating the incident. Police do not suspect a crime.