UK cops step up search for missing girl

2012-10-04 13:18
(AFP/Welsh police)

(AFP/Welsh police)

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London - The search for a missing five-year-old girl in a rural area of Wales was stepped up on Thursday, three days after she went missing.

April Jones was last seen getting into a vehicle on Monday near her home in the rural market town of Machynlleth.

Rescuers appealed for volunteers with "good local knowledge" to search 32 villages around the town as it emerged that the missing girl needs regular medication for cerebral palsy.

The Dyfed-Powys Police force continued to question 46-year-old Mark Bridger, a local man arrested on Tuesday, in the hope he can lead them to the girl.

Police have said he is known to April's family, though is not a relative.

Detectives on Wednesday got an extension of 12 hours to quiz the man, stressing that he was just one of several lines of inquiry.

Superintendent Ian John said: "The search operation is continuing to grow and grow at quite a pace.

Challenging terrain

The rugged terrain of mid-Wales presents a difficult challenge for rescuers.

John explained: "We've got over 100 mountain rescue experts, 100 police-trained search officers, 20 dog-handlers, two vessels to search the river, a team of kayakers, as well as the Dyfed Powys Police marine unit."

Bridger's estranged son helped with the search before his father was arrested, it has emerged.

According to neighbours, Bridger knew the missing child well as she was a regular playmate of his children.

Detectives examined more than 20 places in and around Machynlleth overnight on Wednesday, shortly after April's mother made an emotional plea for her return.

Child rescue alert

Coral Jones fought back tears as she said: "It's been 36 hours since April was taken from us.

"There must be someone out there who knows where she is and can help the police find her. We are desperate for any news.

"April is only five years old. Please, please, help find her," she said before being overcome with emotion.

Her disappearance triggered the first nationwide child rescue alert, a high-profile system adopted in 2010.

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