Monday 25 September 2017

April Jones search: Police reveal hunt targeting more than 300 separate locations

Five-year-old April Jones went missing in Machynlleth, mid Wales, on Monday October 1
Five-year-old April Jones went missing in Machynlleth, mid Wales, on Monday October 1

Antony Hunt

THE continued intensive hunt for the body of missing April Jones is still targeting more than 300 separate search locations, police have revealed.

The full scale of the huge ongoing search for the five-year-old schoolgirl was revealed today.

More than 150 officers continue to take part in the meticulous hunt through 60 square kilometres of mid Wales countryside.

Now into its fourth week since she disappeared from a housing estate in Machynlleth, the search shows no sign of abating.

Pink ribbons symbolising hope that April would be found alive still decorate the town three weeks after they first appeared.

The schoolgirl was abducted from the Bryn-y-Gog estate where she lived on the evening of October 1.

April, who suffers from cerebral palsy, was playing out late as a treat for receiving a glowing school report earlier that evening.

Desperate hopes she would be found safe and well were dashed when local man Mark Bridger, 46, was charged with her murder.

He appeared at Aberystwyth Magistrates' Court on October 8 charged with murder, abduction and perverting the course of justice.

Senior figures leading the search operation made it clear last week the hunt for April would continue into 2013 if need be.

The full extent of the unforgiving rugged terrain that is being meticulously combed by expert teams was spelled out today.

"This is a massive search operation," Inspector Gareth Thomas, Dyfed Powys Police search adviser, said.

"We are searching an area of 60 kilometres square and have over 300 specific search areas. Each area can be broken down into a number of smaller searches.

"Some of these areas can take many days to search as the terrain is extremely challenging.

"Some of the areas include woodland, quarries and steep mountains with streams and other limitations like potholes and mine shafts.

"The terrain is extremely challenging. The mountains, gorges, streams and waterfalls in the area mean extra care has to be taken and specialist safety equipment must be worn."

"With the assistance of search experts from forces all over the UK, and a range of specialist equipment, we have a detailed search plan that encompasses the whole of Machynlleth and the surrounding area."

He added: "We are undertaking a systematic and methodical forensic search of the whole area. The current search activity is as intense as when it first started and we will continue to do all that we can with the resources we have available to us from Dyfed Powys and other police forces, as well as the Coastguard and the Fire and Rescue Service."

Those resources currently comprise 17 search teams made up of a police sergeant and six constables.

In addition there are eight police search advisers, 10 CSI dogs and a range of specialist equipment and teams.

Backing them are police air support, the South Wales Police marine dive team and the fire service Urban Search and Rescue Team.

Inspector Thomas added: "I have been humbled by the commitment of the officers taking part in the searches.

"We all have a shared goal, and that is to find April. No-one wants to stop searching or doing what they can to help.

"We are committed to continue the search while we still have viable lines of inquiry. We will not leave until we are satisfied that we have done all that we can."

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