Five-year-old boy with brain tumour 'taken' by parents
A "major investigation" is under way to find a five-year-old boy with a brain tumour after he was taken by his parents from hospital without the blessing of doctors.
Hampshire Constabulary said "there are serious concerns" for the life of Ashya King as he needs constant medical care.
Officers said his parents - Brett King, 51, and Naghemeh King, 45, - boarded a cross-Channel ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg at 4pm yesterday with Ashya's six siblings.
Police said Ashya was taken from Southampton General Hospital at around 2pm yesterday by his family, who live in St David's Road, Southsea, Portsmouth.
Ashya is likely to be in a wheelchair or buggy, he cannot communicate verbally and is immobile, a police spokesman said.
The family are travelling in a grey-coloured Hyundai I800 Style CRDI, registration KP60 HWK, and they are still believed to be in France.
Police said they arrived in France at 8pm local time last night.
Hampshire Constabulary said: "We are working with our counterparts in France to activate their emergency child rescue alert procedures to locate the family as soon as possible.
"If we do not locate Ashya today there are serious concerns for his life. He is receiving constant medical care within the UK due to recent surgery and ongoing medical issues.
"Without this specialist 24-hour care Ashya is at risk of additional health complications which place him at substantial risk."
Detective Superintendent Dick Pearson, of the Hampshire Major Investigation Team, said: "He needs to be taken to a medical facility for his urgent health requirements as soon as he is located.
"We have also launched a social media appeal and would urge everyone to share this appeal, particularly if you have friends and relatives in France and bordering countries."
Police have released an image of Ashya being wheeled out of Southampton General Hospital by his father yesterday, as well as pictures of his parents and the type of vehicle they used to flee the UK.
Anyone with information about Ashya's whereabouts should contact Hampshire Constabulary on 101, quoting Operation Aquilion.
In a video posted on YouTube last month, Naveed King said his little brother Ashya had been diagnosed with a brain tumour and was undergoing emergency surgery.
Speaking into the camera in a message directly to Ashya, he said: "I haven't slept. I've been awake all night worrying.
"We love you so much. We're all here for you.
"Everyone is praying for you. We just want to see your smile again.
"No kid at the age of five deserves to have a brain tumour. Let's just hope the doctors know what they're doing and they know exactly where to operate and what to take out, and they take everything out and you can be better.
"And when we look back in 10 years' time when you're 15, we can actually see that things have changed for the better. Just because they're bad at one point doesn't mean they'll always be bad.
"I love you so much. I can't wait to see you."
Naveed also posted footage of a visit to his brother in hospital, having to cut away as the young boy breaks down in tears.
On August 18 he posted an update on Facebook signed "King family", saying Ashya had been "progressing slowly but continuously with only minor problems along the way".
The post included several pictures, one showing Ashya with his mother and another of a large stitched wound at the back of the boy's head and neck.
Naveed wrote: "He (Ashya) is now able to swallow (only liquid things like water and on odd occasions soft yoghurt) but not chew or move his leaps (sic).
"He can also close his eye lids but still struggles in moving his eyes to look at people or things.
"He is still unable to talk to explain how he feels or what may be hurting him on occasions.
"As a family we thank everyone who has taken their time in prayer for Ashya to get better and also by the amazing gifts he has received from those prayers!
"He is still far from being a normal child and still not out of the danger zone of where minor issues could cause severe problems for his brain, so please continue to pray for him to have the strength and to be able to recuperate quickly!"
Naveed, whose Instagram profile says he is 20, describes himself as a Jehovah's Witness on the social networking site.
Friends making comments on his Facebook page also make reference to the Jehovah's Witness religious movement.
Jehovah's Witnesses refuse blood transfusions on religious grounds but are open to other medical procedures.
A spokesman for Brittany Ferries confirmed the family had travelled on board its cross-Channel ferry and the company was assisting Hampshire Police with its inquiries.
The spokesman also confirmed the family had declared they were travelling with a child with "special medical needs" at the time of booking.
In another YouTube video posted earlier this month, Naveed said his family had been staying in a "charity home" and he was visiting his brother twice a day in hospital.
He said Ashya was struggling to move his legs and arms or swallow food and had only recently been able to close his eyelids.
"He's progressing slowly," Naveed said.
"It still might be a couple of weeks before he can maybe move an arm or two and might be a couple of months before he can walk."
A spokeswoman for Portsmouth City Council said the family was not known to them.