Hundreds join grim hunt for little April

A HUGE community effort mounted yesterday to find missing five-year-old April Jones in the close-knit town where she disappeared was stood down last night as the police hunt continued.

Hundreds of people took part in desperate late evening efforts in Machynlleth to locate the five-year-old on Monday, and the massive volunteer force was mobilised again yesterday despite teeming rain as efforts to find the missing child were redoubled.

Many spoke openly of their despair that a defenceless youngster could be taken from the heart of the community.

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The quiet town, 25 miles north of Aberystwyth, is regarded as crime-free.

Matthew Harris, 22, who lives on the edge-of-town Bryn-y-Gog estate from where she was abducted, said: “The general feeling is one of disbelief; nobody can take it on board.”

Surrounded on three sides by tree-covered hills at the centre of the small estate is a series of 
open greens used by local children.

As on most days, unattended bicycles and balls littered the large grass areas safe from thieves on the estate.

“I was born and grew up on this estate and remember what it was like as a kid,” he said.

“Everyone played with everyone else. It’s the same today.

“Somebody said that this estate once won an award as the safest in Powys.

“Every new family that comes to live here says what a great place it is to bring up kids.

“They can run free outside, riding bikes or playing football, without any trouble. What happened last night is unbelievable.”

Barry Jones, 34, who was part of the search effort yesterday, said: “My own son, three-and-a-half, plays out on the estate with the other kids just like this.

“I know it sounds like a cliché but you just don’t expect something like this to happen around here.

“I’ve lived here all my life and you would never imagine something like this happening.

“Everybody knows everybody else.

“The Bryn-y-Gog estate isn’t on the way to anywhere else.

“If you go there you have to go there on purpose.”

James Humphries, 22, walked forestry land around the town late on Monday with six friends as part of an impromptu search.

“We only had two torches between us and it was very dark but we all felt we should be out there doing something rather than sitting around.

“We thought the best thing to do was search somewhere we 
didn’t think anyone else was looking.”

Alwyn Evans, 30, took the day off work to help in the effort to find April and was handing posters to passing motorists.

“I’ve been searching since 7am and then came out to do this. This is not something you dream could happen here,” he added.