The hunt for April Jones was scaled up tonight with hundreds of specialist search officers brought in to find the five year-old missing for more than two days after she was abducted while playing with friends.
Police said the effort, in treacherous conditions, was unprecedented in Britain and was focused on 20 key areas including houses, outbuildings, a fast-flowing river and open land near the mid-Wales town of Machynlleth.
Officers were last night given an extra 12 hours to question the main suspect, Mark Bridger, who has been interrogated twice since his arrest on Tuesday afternoon. They will then decide whether to apply to a court for a warrant to detain him further.
However, they declined to be drawn on whether he has provided useful information about the search. Tests were still being carried out on his Land Rover Discovery, which was left with a local garage less than 24 hours after the girl went missing.
The extra time given to officers to question Mr Bridger came after April's mother, Coral, 40, made a tearful appeal yesterday morning for help in finding her daughter, who suffers from cerebral palsy and requires daily medication.
Ms Jones sobbed as she said: "There must be someone out there who knows where she is . We are desperate for any news. April is only five years old. Please, please, help find her."
Child witnesses said April got into a car from the Bryn-y-Gog estate on Monday afternoon while she was playing near her house. Mr Bridger, a father-of-five who moved to the area more than 20 years ago, knew April's family and had children living on the same estate.
Much of the search yesterday was focused close to the fast-flowing River Dyfi, amid warnings that anyone that had gone into the swollen river could have been swept far downstream.
Two lifeboat vessels were also involved in the operation, said Superintendent Ian John of Dyfed Powys police.
In what were described as treacherous conditions after heavy rain, more than 100 mountain rescue volunteers were working with dozens of specialist police search officers and 20 dog handlers. Mr John said the scale of the search was "unprecedented in the UK". "This is a growing operation and in no way are we scaling back our search. We're completely focused and committed to finding April," he said.
Mr Bridger was arrested walking by a road close to the town. The 46-year-old has been questioned in Aberystwyth, the centre of police operations.
"Clearly our focus in those interview has to be finding April," said Detective Superintendent Reg Bevan, adding: "We're clearly looking into Mark Bridger's past and that's part of the profile I'm building up on him."Reuse content