April Jones abduction: Fifth day of Machynlleth search

Officers continue to search for April around the River Dyfi in Machynlleth

The hunt for missing five-year-old April Jones has entered its fifth day.

Dyfed-Powys Police will hold a new press conference at 10:30 BST on Friday, after search teams gathered at first light to continue the hunt.

Expert teams are combing areas of thick forest around Machynlleth in mid Wales, where she disappeared on Monday.

Police have until 17:00 BST to charge or release Mark Bridger, who is suspected of abducting her, although they can apply to hold him for longer.

Meanwhile, a public fund for donations has been set up due to the number of people from around the UK wanting to show their support, according to the town council.

April Jones April Jones has been missing since Monday night

Mr Bridger, 46, was arrested on Tuesday and is being held at Aberystwyth police station.

Police can apply for a further 24 hours warrant of detention for him during Friday.

His dark blue Land Rover Discovery was seized by detectives for forensic examination.

Officers have been searching a farmhouse in the nearby village of Ceinws where he was known to be living most recently.

The town council said it has decided to create April's Fund after receiving calls from across the UK from people eager to donate money for April and her family.

A website will be created later on Friday so that people can donate online, as well as in collection boxes around the town.

Machynlleth mayor Gareth Jones said April's family would decide what the money would be spent on.

Specialist advisers

Clive Wolfendale, a former acting chief constable of North Wales Police, described Dyfed-Powys Police's operation as stressful for all involved, with the search difficult due to the rural nature of the area.

Mark Bridger and his blue Land Rover Discovery Mark Bridger and his blue Land Rover Discovery - registration L503MEP

He said "just about every part" of the force will have been mobilised, adding that the area "could not be more remote".

"In those circumstances you need individuals who can search and who do it so methodically you know 100% that that area has been covered," he told BBC Radio Wales.

On Thursday police renewed an appeal over Mr Bridger's movements - saying they were keen to piece together where he had been from 18:30 BST on Monday to 15:30 BST on Tuesday.

At a news conference Supt Ian John, of Dyfed-Powys Police, gave details of the search operation.

"We are utilising eight specialist police search teams led by five specialist police advisers with the support of the national police search centre," he said.

Mr John also praised the public's response.

"Following the appeals for information that we've made, we've received over 2,500 calls from the public," he said.

"All these calls need to be answered and that's being done by all 44 police forces around the country.

"I'm sure you can imagine the operation that's going on in and around our force area to process that information and make sure that everything is being given to the right priority."

Det Supt Reg Bevan urged anyone who has had contact with Mark Bridger to make contact with police.

Parts of the town have been covered in pink ribbons since April's mother made a plea for people to wear her daughter's favourite colour and to show support for the search.

And a special area has been created in the foyer of April's school, Ysgol Gynradd Machynlleth, after a request from April's mother with pupils creating small individual heart-shaped messages.

'Therapeutic for everyone'

The school has also set up an open book for parents, pupils and staff to leave "messages of support for April, Coral, Paul, Jasmine and Harley during this traumatic time".

On Friday, head teacher Gwenfair Glyn told BBC Radio Cymru's Y Post Cyntaf programme that child psychologists have been working with pupils and that whole school assemblies have been reduced to small groups.

"The school is coping reasonably well at the moment but every day brings an additional challenge," she said.

She said: "We've been advised not to hold a whole-school service because it might create a feeling of panic. Instead we are targeting small groups.

Start Quote

It will be difficult to get back to normal whatever happens. Things won't be the same at the school ever again”

End Quote Gwenfair Glyn April's head teacher

"So we go as staff, as class teachers, to hold small sessions where we let the children guide us in what they need."

The head teacher said every pupil has been busy making a pink ribbon.

"They have also made an origami swan - on the request of April's older brother - and they take those home, write a message on it and place it in the window," she said.

"It has been something practical for us to do and has opened the gate to discuss things with no pressure.

"It's been therapeutic for everyone, including the teachers.

"It will be difficult to get back to normal whatever happens. Things won't be the same at the school ever again."

Hundreds of local people responded to a fresh call for people living within a 10 to 15 mile (16-24km) radius and with a good local knowledge of the area, to contact rescue coordinators.

They have been searching areas around 32 villages, concentrating initially on 15 communities.

Location map

Dyfed-Powys Police have asked anyone with information to contact a dedicated hotline on 0300 2000 333.

Click to see more detailed map

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