April Jones: Mechanical diggers move into Welsh village in hunt for schoolgirl
MECHANICAL diggers have moved into a tiny village near the town where April Jones disappeared as the search for the five-year-old girl entered a new phase.
The equipment was being used in and around Ceinws after experts advised that there was now a zero per cent chance of finding her alive.
Police were waiting before using the diggers until forensic teams had finished their fingertip searches of ground for potential clues in the investigation.
Now that some of that work has been completed, they have decided to start dredging up earth.
Mark Bridger, who has been charged with April's murder, lived in Ceinws.
Supt Ian John, who is leading the investigation, said: "We have got diggers out in Ceinws."
The digging work was beginning in a narrow country lane just south of the village which has already been closed off for utility work.
Supt John said the 60 square kilometre search area, containing rivers, cliffs and steep wooded terrain, represented the most difficult challenge that could be found for a search in the UK.
He admitted that earlier this week he had been having doubts about how long the search might need to go on but plans drawn up by expert advisers suggested that it may need to continue for several weeks.
Supt John said: "We still have quite a lot of areas to search where we believe we still have a realistic prospect of locating her."
He said April's family had been "incredibly resilient".
"I can only imagine they are desperately trying to hang on to some hope. Until we can find a body they are always going to hope that we are wrong."
Fears were also growing that April could have been swept 70 miles down the river, echoing a tragic case from 60 years ago.
A girl who previously went missing from the same town as five-year-old April Jones was swept more than 70 miles away in a case that foreshadows the latest tragic disappearance.
Eight-year-old Beryl Jones fell into the river Dyfi in Machynlleth more than 60 years ago and her body washed up nine days later on the northern side of Cardigan Bay.
Searches for April have been focused around the same river while coastguard have been looking along the area between Towyn and Borth, which are to the north and south of where the river opens into the sea.
But Criccieth, where Beryl's body was found, is nearly 40 miles north of Towyn.
Local historian David Wynn Davies described how April's disappearance had brought back memories of the historic case for many of the town's older residents.
Beryl disappeared when she fell from a bridge in the Mid Wales town in the late-1940s.
"She fell off that and they found her body in Criccieth about nine days later," he said.
If as feared April had also gone into the river, she "could well be a long way by now". He added: "It would be similar to the Beryl Jones case."
He said the disappearance of the little girl, who lived with her family near the bridge and whose father was a railway clerk, had raised a "lot of emotion" in Machynlleth at the time.
But he said: "This is a lot bigger. The other girl had an accident and fell in the river."
Mark Bridger, 46, a former lifeguard and abattoir worker, has been charged with April's murder.
The comparison camer after police searched a quarry and dilapidated caravan near to where April went missing.
The roof had come off the caravan in the tiny village of Ceinws, just outside April's home town.
Officers were breaking up debris around the vehicle and also moving large bricks beside it.
Forensic tents have also been erected in the garden of that house.
It came as intensive searches around the village continued, with apparently more personnel involved than on previous days.