UK police vow to continue April Jones search into new year17/10/2012 - 17:23:11
The massive search for missing Welsh girl April Jones could well continue into Christmas and beyond, British police have said today.
Major search efforts to locate the body of the five-year-old schoolgirl are nowhere near being scaled back.
As the painstaking search for April entered its third week, police vowed the hunt would go on for months to come.
Superintendent Ian John said he could not rule out the ongoing search for April would extend into 2013.
"We said goodbye to 150 officers this morning and they've been replaced by another 150 specialists," he said, speaking from Machynlleth.
"Numbers may fluctuate a bit on a daily basis.
"But whilst we still have viable lines of inquiry, we will continue to search.
"We could still be here at Christmas or the new year, we could be finished in two weeks."
He added: "The numbers involved in searching are always under review.
"Hopefully we will find April soon.
"We are not going anywhere until we have done our job.
"We are here for the long-term if we need to be."
April Jones was abducted as she played out with friends on Machynlleth's Bryn-y-Gog estate where she lived, on October 1.
April, who suffers from cerebral palsy, was out late on her bike as a treat for getting a glowing school report earlier that day.
She was last seen getting into what is believed to have been a Land Rover Discovery.
Local man and former lifeguard Mark Bridger, 46, was arrested the following day and his Land Rover Discovery seized for forensic examination.
He was later charged with the murder and abduction of the schoolgirl and perverting the course of justice by disposing of her body.
He broke down in tears a week after her disappearance when he appeared at Aberystwyth Magistrates' Court on all three charges.
Sixteen days after April's disappearance and assumed murder, the hunt to retrieve her body and give her family closure goes on.
"There is no scaling down at all," said Superintendent John, who has lead the Dyfed Powys Police search operation.
He said that specialist searches from 16 separate police forces were helping in the ongoing hunt for April.
They were backed up by fire service urban area search and rescue teams, hazardous area search teams and teams from the ambulance service.
Mountain rescue teams were brought back in over the weekend as different terrain was encountered and closely searched.
Specialists capable of working in confined areas such as pot holes, caves and mine shafts are used when needed.
Hazards for which the experts need to be prepared include encountering gases such as methane which have built up.
While a myriad of tunnels and shafts are explored underground, commercial volunteers are helping with aerial searches.
Private planes full of technology otherwise unavailable to the police have been helping to spot promising areas to search.
Sonar technology and specialist equipment which can pinpoint heat signatures from the air are being used.
The data it produces is closely examined and used to target specific areas to search.
The teams themselves are working on a five day rota before being replaced by fresh boots on the ground.
Superintendent John underlined the vital need for teams to get rest and recharge their batteries.
"The don't want to go but it is very necessary," he explained.
He said he took last weekend off himself to set an example of good practice for others to follow.
"If I stay, you would get people saying well I'm not standing down if the boss is still here.
"But you need to be refreshed and relaxed to be at your best so you don't miss anything."
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