Mikaeel Kular search: Police issue nationwide alert for missing three-year-old Edinburgh boy who vanished in the night
Three-year-old Mikaeel Kular was last seen as his mother put him to bed – by Thursday morning he had gone. Jonathan Brown reports from Edinburgh on the local search and a nationwide alert
Mikaeel Kular normally shared a room with his twin sister. On Wednesday night, at around 9pm, his mother put him into his favourite dinosaur pyjamas and tucked him into bed alone because he was feeling unwell, his family said. When she went to rouse him at 7.15am today, he was gone, along with his coat and shoes.
What must be the worst conceivable nightmare of every parent had become horrifyingly true for the Kular family, as police issued a nationwide alert last night amid mounting fears for the welfare of the missing toddler.
At the centre of the investigation is how a three-year-old child, small for his age, who has never gone missing before and who is described as a "friendly, playful wee boy", apparently managed to dress himself and walk out of the flat in a block on a modern housing estate - opening heavy security and fire doors as he went.
Dozens of friends and neighbours of the family spent the day alongside police with sniffer dogs searching gardens, outbuildings, wheelie bins and open spaces near the family home that the toddler shared with his mother Rosdeep, 33, and four siblings in the Drylaw area of Edinburgh.
White-suited forensic teams examined the flat and surrounding area for traces of the missing youngster.
As darkness fell on another cold winter night in the Scottish capital, the search for the boy was being extended to the Firth of Forth, where lifeboats were scouring the shoreline.
Police said that Mikaeel, who is of British-Pakistani origin, may have still been in his pyjamas, which are embroidered with a distinctive turquoise dinosaur.
Detectives said that they were pursuing all possible lines of inquiry but added that they had "no evidence of criminal activity".
Superintendent Liz McAinsh of Police Scotland, who is leading the hunt, said that all "key" members of the family, including Mikaeel's Pakistani-born father, had been spoken to, and that no arrests had been made.
She added that there were no formal suspects because there was no evidence of wrongdoing and the boy's disappearance was being treated as a missing-person inquiry. A number of individuals, however, were assisting police as events unfolded, during a tense day.
"As you can imagine, Mikaeel's mother is distraught. She just wants our help and the public's help in finding her little boy," said Ms McAinsh.
She added that she had been assured by the boy's mother that he was capable of dressing himself and that he could get in and out of the property on his own.
"Three-year-old children are quite resilient and they have quite a great deal of strength and the ability to open doors, and I'm assured that Mikaeel is capable of doing that," Ms McAinsh added.
It is believed that no one else had access to the flat during the night, police said.
A hotline number - part of the nationwide Child Rescue Alert scheme - was established this afternoon so that anyone who believes they may have seen Mikaeel can get in touch. People returning home from work in the Pennywell, Muirhouse, Cramond and Drylaw areas of the city were urged to search any crevice or corner where a disorientated and hungry three-year-old might seek shelter and warmth.
It is believed Mikaeel was wearing a beige hooded jacket, blue jogging bottoms, and brown Clarks shoes, as well as the distinctive nightwear. He also has a faded scar on the bridge of his nose and a sore on the left hand side of his mouth, police said.
Neighbours living close to the family were alerted to his disappearance shortly after 7am, when the boy's mother found him gone from his bed and not in the flat.
Officers began knocking on doors asking if anyone had seen him.
Police Scotland issued a media plea for help shortly before 10am, by which time the hunt included dozens of officers engaged in house-to-house inquiries, and an air support unit.
A photograph tweeted by the national force showed the smiling, short-haired youngster with another child's arm around him, and this picture soon dominated the rolling news channels.
A police press conference revealed more details of the harrowing moments when Mikaeel was found to be missing.
It emerged that the boy's mother and four siblings had been at the flat overnight.
By this time, local people were gathering at a community centre where they were being briefed by officers on where to search.
Dog walkers and local parents were sent to scour the area, with some searching nearby golf courses.
Police are searching for three-year-old Mikaeel Kular who was last seen in his bed at home in Edinburgh, on Wednesday evening.
Robert Pearson, chairman of a local residents' group, led a team of seven searchers. He said the mood among volunteers was growing "quite desperate" as daylight hours began to dwindle.
Linda Slattie, 52, a neighbour, 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 that the child would be found soon. The Liberal Democrat Mike Crockart said: "My thoughts particularly are with the family in my constituency where a three-year-old went missing from his home overnight last night and I know we all fervently hope for Mikaeel Kular's safe return as soon as is possible."
Amid mounting speculation before lunchtime, a man was arrested in the city's Waterfront Gait in the Muirhouse area, and a property a mile from the family home was searched. However, this was later said to be unconnected with the boy's disappearance. Meanwhile, as the family's block was sealed off behind police tape, the desperate search continued into the night.
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