Two young sisters were discovered safe and well today after they went missing while playing in a local park sparking a major police search.
It is believed Liana, 11 and Teigan Boyd, aged eight, spent the night in a derelict house close to their home in Fallowfield Manchester with an older child.
A police constable was led to the sisters by a 14-year-old girl, who was also missing from home and being sought by police, shortly before midday today. The youngsters were playing at the entrance of Whitworth Park which is visible from the family’s house.
Police said they had been “extremely concerned” over the welfare of the children who were unaccounted for for 16 hours. Facebook and Twitter campaigns were quickly launched to help find the sisters and media flooded the area.
They had disappeared on the first Sunday night of the school summer holidays. The girls, who were regularly seen in the popular student area pushing a pram and waving at local, were making the most for the fine weather. The park was full of children enjoying the balmy evening, police said.
Their mother raised the alarm by calling 999 when they failed to return after setting out to play at around 8pm. Friends and family had been out searching the neighbourhood and park.
Greater Manchester police scrambled the force helicopter which continued to buzz over the park all night and this morning while dozens of officers conducted house to house inquiries after learning they may have gone off with an older child.
Chief Superintendent Rob Potts said all three girls were now being spoken to by officers and social workers.
"The most important thing is that the girls have been found safe and well. We understood that the sisters were with another missing girl, and officers were given descriptions of all three. I would like to praise the actions of the police officer involved, who acted quickly and noticed the girl matching the description,” he said.
The girls’ relieved mother was seen outside the house in tears after hearing the news that they had been found safe and well. Family liaison and welfare officers had been comforting her during the ordeal. Police said Mrs Boyd had been “fraught” because the missing sisters had no history of running away and had never stayed out overnight.
The house in Moss Side where the girls were discovered is about a mile from the family home on Acomb Street overlooking Whitworth Park which is surrounded by a number of busy roads and close to Manchester Royal Infirmary.
The 18 acre park is also home to the internationally renowned Whitworth Art Gallery and close to Manchester’s universities.
Relieved neighbours described the family as of Irish descent and said the youngsters were happy girls who regularly played in the street.
Lisa Murgatroyd, 23, who is reading Middle Eastern Studies at Manchester University, said: "I saw them only yesterday playing across the road.
"They seem confident little girls and always cheerful." Nikolay Poyukov, 22, a business student at Salford University, said: "They often play together in the street quite happily. I didn't realise they were missing but I could hear the police helicopter over the park all night. Their parents must have been very worried."