Rescue teams search haystacks for missing Emil in case the terrified two-year-old hides

Fears grow that the missing Emil has been kidnapped

French police have admitted they have ‘no leads’ in the ongoing search for two-year-old Emile, searching haystacks and checking local phone records as they try to trace the boy, who has been missing since Saturday.

Emile, who usually lives with his parents near Marseille, was last seen by two men when he left his grandparents’ home. He was on vacation with an old couple.

Speaking at a press conference late yesterday, public prosecutor Remi Avon told reporters: ‘At the moment we have no clues, no information, no material that can help us understand this disappearance’.

He assured the press that the ‘investigation is continuing’, but stressed that there had been no progress since Sunday.

‘We are in the same position as yesterday after receiving two testimonies’, Avon said. ‘We are really taking the investigation as far as possible on the ground’.

Avon previously said that in addition to the physical search, investigators were also looking at details such as local phone records showing ‘what phone calls were made, by whom and to whom’ at the time of the disappearance, as well as which mobile phones were connected to local towers.

‘All possible explanations are on the table, we’re not biased, and we’re not ruling any out,’ Avon said.

In a chilling echo of BBC drama The Missing, police said the child may have died and her killer may have taken her body after accidentally hitting her ‘with a car or tractor’.

Emile was playing in the garden of his grandparents’ home in the village of Le Vernet in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence on Saturday afternoon when he went missing.

French police are conducting an extensive air and ground search for a missing two-year-old boy who disappeared from a village in the south of the country over the weekend.

French gendarmes are briefed before taking part in the search for two-and-a-half-year-old Emile

The search continued today with a helicopter flight to broadcast the voice of Emil’s mother across the region in an attempt to find her missing son.

After the village of Haute-Vernet was closed to non-residents, the search will be extended tomorrow. Investigators are also working on telephone lines to trace those who were near the village at the time of the disappearance.

The expanded inquiry will increase the number of investigators from 15 to 20 and will elevate the inquiry to ‘national’ as opposed to ‘regional’.

According to Le Parisien, investigators received 1,200 calls after calling for witnesses.

After days of thorough searches involving 800 gendarmes, firefighters, volunteers, helicopters, thermal camera drones and sniffer dogs, police admitted they had to consider other possibilities.

‘Either the body was hidden after an accident, or it was removed’, a gendarmerie spokesman said, adding that sniffer dogs would have found a body in the area by now.

‘It was clear that, after 48 hours, we had switched to another dimension. The hearing is ongoing,’ the gendarmerie spokesman said, referring to interviews with residents and potential witnesses.’

Today, Avon told reporters, ‘Medically we are told that after 48 hours, given the child’s young age, his constitution’, and the possibility that he will be deprived of water and food in the current heat,’ the vital prognosis is very very promising’.

According to La Provence, officials are investigating whether Emile may have been hit by a car or a tractor and his body taken away.

A group of gendarmes search for little two-year-old Emile in a steep area just outside Le Vernet in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence.

Volunteers take part in a search operation for two-and-a-half-year-old Emil who has been reported missing.

French gendarmes join search operation for two-and-a-half-year-old Emile who has been reported missing

‘Of course, we still hope to find him alive, but somewhere else. If he had died in the enclosure, the dogs would have smelled him,’ Le Point told the spokesperson.

‘If he had been alive and hiding, we would have found him the way he was deployed.’

On Tuesday morning, airborne searchers were given a recording of the mother’s voice to play ‘as loud as possible’ over the plane’s speakers.

‘Their hope is that Emil will be hidden in the countryside and only come out when he hears his mother’s voice from the helicopter,’ an emergency services source said.

‘Emile was always chasing butterflies, and would go far before hiding somewhere to sleep,’ the source added.

Hoping to find any possible leads, police are also speaking to Emil’s devout Catholic mother, who has asked for prayers for her son and his safe return.

Police are also investigating another hypothesis that Emil may have been abducted – despite denying any suggestion he was abducted just 24 hours earlier.

‘He is two-and-a-half years old, able to walk. But, all the hunting we have done over the last two days should have allowed us to find him,’ said Marc Chapuis, the police officer in charge of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence where Emile went missing on Saturday afternoon.

Regarding treating the disappearance as an abduction, public prosecutor Avon said at the same press conference: ‘All hypotheses remain valid, none are supported or excluded.’

‘We are committed to conducting investigations at all levels’.

Three days later, the two-year-old still has not been found, after police searched 20 or so houses in the small Alpine village.

As fears grow, the public prosecutor insists that so far ‘no material points to a criminal offense that could be the source of this disappearance.’

‘From the moment there is no crime, there is no person involved,’ he repeated.

French gendarmes are briefed before taking part in the search for two-and-a-half-year-old Emile

Volunteers are looking for Emile who was playing in the garden of his grandparents’ home in a village just outside Le Vernet in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence between Grenoble and Nice when he went missing.

A French gendarme takes part in a search operation for two-and-a-half-year-old Emile who has been missing for two days.

At the press conference Chapuis confirmed that the search system for Tuesday will be adapted to be ‘more targeted’.

Police had already expanded the search area by three miles without finding any trace of the boy on Monday. A helicopter, thermal camera drones and sniffer dogs were brought in to help.

‘We are present on the ground,’ said Chapuis. ‘We deploy special means to search for signs and clues and we respond to the needs of forensic investigations.’

Avon also confirmed that, despite eyewitnesses coming forward, no new material ‘likely to be able to explain the disappearance of little Emil’ has yet come forward.

Emile was playing in the garden of his grandparents’ home in the village of Haute-Vernet in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence on Saturday afternoon when he went missing.

His parents – who have not been named – stayed at their home near Marseille, 200 miles away, for the summer holidays.

The family was getting ready to leave the home they were in when Emil took advantage of the inattention, officials said. His grandparents came to pick him up in the car and found him gone.

The grandparents then alerted the authorities about Emil’s disappearance at 5.15pm [4.15pm BST] Family members, police, emergency services workers and local villagers began searching for the boy on Saturday

A helicopter, thermal camera drones, and sniffer dogs were brought in to help with the initial 5km search area for Emile today.

Emil was last seen playing in the garden at his grandparents’ house on July 8 as people are now looking for him

Volunteers take part in a search operation for two-and-a-half-year-old Emil, who has been reported missing for two days.

Marie-Laure, who co-runs the only bar in nearby Le Vernet, said: ‘We were preparing for the evening service when we were told the child had gone missing.

‘We all went to see what we could do to help as soon as possible. We looked for places where he could be, we really looked everywhere for him.’

Police have so far searched all the houses in the village, and appealed to anyone with any information to come forward.

Officials released a photo and description of the child to social media and broadcasters, saying he has brown eyes, blond hair and is 90cm (about 3ft) tall.

They said she was wearing a yellow top, white shorts with a green pattern and hiking shoes when she went missing.


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