Ben Needham search: Police halt dig in hunt for toddler who vanished in 1991

Ben was 21-months-old when he disappeared on 24 July 1991 

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The Independent Online

Police on the Greek island of Kos have halted their dig for clues in the search for Ben Needham, the toddler who went missing in 1991.

Over the last three weeks, officers from South Yorkshire and Greek search volunteers excavated land around an old farmhouse on the island where the toddler was last seen.

The digging operation was launched after fresh evidence suggested Ben may have been accidently run over by a digger clearing land on the day he disappeared. 

Ben Needham disappeared without a trace when he was 21-months-old in 1991 (PA)

Ben was 21-months-old when he disappeared on 24 July 1991 while playing outside the farmhouse during a family holiday.

Investigators officially ended digging operations on Saturday after 21 days. 

On Sunday afternoon a team of forensic archaeologists and anthropologists finished their examination of the last of the debris. 

The teams broke into a round of applause as they packed away their equipment, Sky News reports. 

More than 70 items, which police have described as being of mild interest, were found in the excavation, which saw hundreds of tonnes of soil removed from two locations on Kos, a quarter of a mile apart. 

The objects have been sent off for further analysis and police have said they will continue with their investigations even if the items do not reveal any new information. 

Kerry Needham, 41, mother of Ben Needham and his grandmother Christine (L) are seen outside the police station on the island of Kos in October 2012 (AFP)

South Yorkshire police received a grant from the Home Office last year and the force confirmed enough financial support is available to keep the case open. 

A new witness came forward with extra information after the man driving the digger nearby where Ben was playing died of cancer last year. 

Police have said there are also other leads to follow from various information collected throughout the investigation’s history. 

Ben’s mother Kerry Needham told the Mirror that all those who had taken part in the search operations “deserved medals”.