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Huge search underway for toddler who disappeared in French Alps

Huge search underway for toddler who disappeared in French Alps

Two-year-old Emelie was staying with his grandparents in Haut-Vernet when he disappeared over the weekend.

A massive search effort is underway to find a toddler who went missing in a hamlet in the French Alps four days ago.

The two-year-old - named only as Emile - was staying with his grandparents in Haut-Vernet, a tiny village of 25 inhabitants at an altitude of around 1200 metres, when he disappeared on Saturday (15 July).

The toddler was last seen walking down the street near his grandparents' house by two witnesses on Saturday afternoon, according to authorities.

His grandparents notified the police of his disappearance at around 5.15pm local time on Saturday. He was reported to have been wearing white shorts and a yellow top at the time.

“The family was getting ready to leave the house to go on an outing. He took advantage of this fleeting moment to leave," Francois Balique, the local mayor, told French TV.

"His grandparents realised he was no longer there when they went to put him in the car."

A massive search effort began that night, but after 48 hours of combing through the area, no clues to the toddler's whereabouts were found.

“We took part in a big search this morning with 50 other people," a volunteer named Roxanne told the AFP news agency.

The two-year-old was last seen in Haut-Vernet on Saturday, 15 July.

“There was a gap of two metres (seven feet) between each of us, we looked in the fields, and in the woods. We looked out for the smallest clue, maybe an item of clothing or a shoe he could have lost.”

Rémy Avon, public prosecutor for Digne-les-Bains, said the search would become 'more targeted' and 'more selective' going forward.

“We have no clue, no information, no element that can help us understand this disappearance. We are at the same point than yesterday at the same time," he said.

“The 30 buildings that make up the Haut-Vernet building were completely visited. 25 people were heard, 12 vehicles visited, 12 hectares raked.

“All possible explanations are on the table, we’re not favouring any, and we’re not ruling any out."

All houses in the hamlet have been searched, except for two that are unoccupied, and several witnesses have been interviewed.

On Tuesday, helicopters spent the day broadcasting a recording of his mother’s voice over the area.

Search teams were instructed to play the recording 'as loud as possible' in the hopes of finding the toddler.

“We’re not stopping the search, we are not losing hope,” the local prefect, Marc Chappuis, told reporters late Monday.

Featured Image Credit: Twitter/@Gendarmerie / AFP

Topics: News, World News