Massive ground, air and sea search finds no trace of missing Mikaeel (3)
Published 16/01/2014 | 10:05
A full-scale search involving the emergency services and worried neighbours is continuing through the night as concern grows for a missing three-year-old boy.
Mikaeel Kular disappeared from his home overnight and a large-scale ground, air and sea search has so far found no trace of him.
The operation was launched in Edinburgh after the youngster's mother found his bed empty this morning.
A police helicopter, sniffer dogs, coastguard and lifeboat teams were brought in to help search for the toddler who was last seen at his family's flat in Ferry Gait Crescent at around 9pm yesterday.
Neighbours on the modern housing estate also joined the hunt for Mikaeel, a twin with three other siblings, by combing areas near his home such as parks and lock-ups.
But as night fell and temperatures plummeted, there were no sightings of Mikaeel.
Police have activated the Child Rescue Alert system, which is usually reserved for abduction and kidnap cases and supported by all police forces across the UK.
A special telephone number has been set up for anyone who has seen the child or has information about his whereabouts. Calls to the 0300 200 0200 number will be answered by dedicated members of staff.
Police Scotland Superintendent Liz McAinsh said the force is using all the resources at its disposal in the hunt.
She urged residents in the local area to remain vigilant and check all property, including gardens, outbuildings, garages, sheds and vehicles for the youngster.
"Our enquiries to trace Mikaeel have been ongoing for over 12 hours now and so far, we have still to receive that vital piece of information that will lead to his discovery," she said.
"I would like to thank the local community for their continued support and assistance during the search, and I also wish to thank those who have already called our dedicated number with information.
"All information received is being quickly progressed by our officers and I'd like to urge anyone who thinks they may know where Mikaeel is be to get in touch if they haven't done so already."
The search focus remains in Edinburgh, particularly in the Drylaw area, Pennywell, Muirhouse and Silverknowes," Ms McAinsh told a press conference earlier.
"Anyone in the locality, please continue searching in your own properties. If your neighbours are away, think about searching their gardens, their sheds, their wheelie bins - anywhere a three-year-old boy might seek shelter."
Temperatures in Edinburgh dropped to 2.3C (36F) last night and gritters were out on the streets of the capital tonight.
Mikaeel, who has two sisters and two brothers, was discovered missing from his bed by his mother at around 7.15am today.
His jacket and shoes were missing and police are looking into whether he might have left of his own accord.
He is described as slim, 3ft, of Asian appearance and possibly wearing a thigh-length beige hooded coat.
It is possible he is also wearing black gloves with multi-coloured fingers, dark navy blue jogging bottoms, a grey pyjama top with an embroidered turquoise dinosaur on the chest and brown Clarks shoes.
He has a faded scar on the bridge of his nose and a sore on the left hand side of his mouth.
Police tonight issued a new photograph of the missing boy, showing him in the beige jacket he was believed to be wearing when he disappeared.
Officers leading the search for Mikaeel said there is currently no evidence of criminal behaviour. There are no suspects and there have been no arrests or formal detentions.
Ms McAinsh said police have spoken to all "key" members of the boy's family who are assisting police.
"As you can imagine, Mikaeel's mother is distraught. She just wants our help and the public's help in finding her little boy," Ms McAinsh said earlier.
The youngster attends a local nursery, where he is said to be a friendly and playful youngster.
The police search remains focused on the north of Edinburgh tonight. During this afternoon, the search effort was extended to the coastline, with coastguard and lifeboat teams scouring the shoreline in the Cramond and Drylaw areas.
Residents also told how they tried to do their bit.
Robert Pearson, chairman of a local residents' group, said he sent out a plea for help and around 50 people responded.
The volunteers split up into groups of seven to search the area, including Silverhouse Golf Course.
One resident, who did not want to give her name, said: "I got woken up at the back of 7am by the police, asking if I'd seen the wee one.
"I got the fright of my life because I've got a child. It's just absolutely horrific.
"I didn't see anything out of the ordinary. The first thing I did was actually search the stair."
The neighbour said a group of about 10 mothers have been out in their cars searching the area.
Neighbour Linda Slattie, 52, said: "We were out this morning looking, down to Muirhouse Park, the community centre, looking in bushes and lock ups and things like that.
"I've been very shocked. It could be any one of our kids."
In the House of Commons, Edinburgh MPs expressed their hopes Mikaeel would be safely returned to his family as soon as possible.
Liberal Democrat Mike Crockart (Edinburgh West) said: "I know we all fervently hope for Mikaeel Kular's safe return as soon as is possible."
Labour's Mark Lazarowicz (Edinburgh North and Leith) told MPs: "I hope he is soon found safely and brought back to his home."