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Hopes fading in frantic search for April

POLICE divers looking for missing April Jones have focused their searches on a river near her home.

Hopes were fading for the abducted five-year-old today as the public were asked to stay away from the search effort.

Investigators are now expecting intelligence arising from interviews with the man in custody to drive the search operation.

An overnight operation involving 40 officers, dog handlers and mountain rescue teams has failed to find the missing five-year-old.

She was abducted from near her home in mid-Wales at around 7pm on Monday and hundreds of people have joined the search for the missing youngster.

Superintendent Ian John warned of the "challenging conditions" facing search and rescue teams.

A 46-year-old man, named locally as Mark Bridger, remained in police custody after being arrested on suspicion of abduction.

He is known to April's mother Coral and father Paul.

In a statement, her family said they had been left "shattered" by the abduction.

Extra officers and mountain rescue teams were being drafted in to help in the search, police said today.

Officers said they would press ahead with a "methodical and systematic" search of the area around the town of Machynlleth.

Supt John, of Dyfed Powys Police, said he hoped more information would come from the suspect as the day went on.

He said: "I'm afraid to say I don't have any news on April's whereabouts but we continue to pursue the search areas.

"As further interviews with the person in custody take place we anticipate intelligence coming out of those interviews, which is going to drive where the police search operation will go."

He said the police had been "overwhelmed" by members of the public volunteering to help search.

However, conditions were "challenging" and the River Dyfi, which runs through Machynlleth, was in flood.

Close-knit

In the statement, the family said: "Please, please, if you have our little girl let her come home to us.

"This is such a small, close-knit community and we plead with anyone who has information, no matter how small they may think it is, to contact the police immediately.

"Please help us bring home our beautiful girl."

A spokesman for Milford Haven Coastguard said searches along the River Dyfi would continue for as long as needed.

Holyhead coastguard said they would also assist.

Supt John asked that the searches be left "to the trained and skilled people that we have", notwithstanding the help they have received from the public.

He said experience suggested any breakthrough in the search for April would be at a local level.


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