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Desperate search for April goes on as police quiz murder suspect

THE desperate search for missing schoolgirl April Jones was continuing today, despite the investigation being upgraded to a murder inquiry.

The hopes of families in the Welsh town were dashed as Mark Bridger was arrested for murder yesterday and the prospect of finding April alive receded.

Police have until this afternoon to quiz him further before they have to either charge or release him.

Officers said efforts to find April would not be scaled back as emergency services including the Coastguard, RNLI, RAF and 150 members of mountain rescue teams continued the hunt.


Police also released fresh pictures of the five-year-old girl as the search efforts continued.

Residents in the Welsh town of Machynlleth are still hopeful of finding the missing school alive, as many wore pink ribbons -- the youngster's favourite colour -- to symbolise hope.

April was last seen getting into what is believed to have been a Land Rover Discovery near her home on Monday.

She was playing on the Bryn-y-Gog estate, where she lives, as a treat for receiving a glowing report at school.

Mother Coral Jones (40) and her husband Paul (44) had attended the nearby primary school's parents' evening less than one hour before.

Mark Bridger (46) who also has children at the school, was there around the same time as a parent, it was revealed today.

His blue left-hand-drive Land Rover Discovery was seized by police after his arrest and is being forensically examined.

The arrest for murder signals a change in the chances of finding April, who suffers from cerebral palsy, alive.

Bridger was initially arrested on suspicion of abduction on Tuesday, when officers still hoped to find April alive.

Last night police in Aberystwyth were granted a final 24 hours to hold and question him about April's disappearance.

"Mark Bridger has been arrested on suspicion of the murder of April Jones," said Detective Superintendent Reg Bevan.

"The arrest does not detract from our efforts to find April and we remain committed to finding her.

"Her family has been informed of this development and, as you would expect, they continue to be supported by a family liaison officer."

The close community of Machynlleth are still reeling about the girl's disappearance.

One pensioner, who did not want to be named, said: "If the power of positive thinking could bring her back she would be here now.


"Privately, I'm still praying that she will be found alive."

Teaching staff at April's primary school are also praying for a miracle.

Acting headteacher Gwenfair Glyn said everyone is "desperately worried".

But she added: "We are still clinging to hope that April will be returned to us.

"As more time goes on we are becoming increasingly concerned for her safety but we refuse to give up hope and are praying that April is alive."