'Leave April hunt to experts' plea

Free Press Series: April Jones, five, went missing in Machynlleth, mid Wales, on Monday evening (Dyfed-Powys Police/PA) April Jones, five, went missing in Machynlleth, mid Wales, on Monday evening (Dyfed-Powys Police/PA)

The desperate search for missing five-year-old April Jones has continued as police urged the public to leave the hunt to their "trained and skilled teams".

A 46-year-old man, named locally as Mark Bridger, remains in police custody and will be questioned later. The man, who is known to April's parents, Coral and Paul, was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of abduction.

Five-year-old April was abducted from the Mid Wales town of Machynlleth at around 7pm on Monday. She was last seen getting into a van by a friend she was playing with on the Bryn-y-Gog estate close to her home.

An overnight search involving 40 officers, dog handlers and mountain rescue teams failed to find the youngster, Dyfed Powys Police has said, but Superintendent Ian John said officers remain hopeful of finding the five-year-old alive and well.

Mr John said they had been overwhelmed by support from the public, who have turned out in droves to help hunt for April. But he warned of "challenging conditions" facing search and rescue teams and asked people to leave today's efforts to "members of our trained and skilled teams".

He added that police and a mountain rescue team carried out "systematic and methodical" searches around Machynlleth throughout the night, and efforts today will concentrate on potentially dangerous areas of deep woodland and the River Dyfi around the town.

"I need people to know it is a rural environment, very challenging conditions out there," he said. "The weather yesterday wasn't great and I don't think the forecast is very good for today. The River Dyfi is in flood and we really do need to manage the risk of everybody there, not only the police officers, the mountain rescue team, but we are extremely concerned about large numbers of members of the public going into what I have said are very challenging conditions.

"So what I am asking really is, notwithstanding the great support and the commitment that people want to show in helping us to find April, can we please leave this now to the trained and skilled people that we have. I don't want those officers to be distracted by the well-intentioned and enthusiastic support," he added.

Mr Bridger, reported to be a former soldier who worked in the area as a swimming pool lifeguard, was arrested after he was found walking along a road to the north of Machynlleth by a police patrol. Police are now expecting intelligence arising from interviews with him to drive the search operation.

In a statement on Tuesday, April's family said: "Last night our lives were shattered when our beautiful little girl, April, who was playing with friends, was taken from us. We are devastated and our lives have stopped. Please, please, if you have our little girl, let her come home to us."

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