Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Ben Needham search: Ancient graves uncovered in Kos

A South Yorkshire police officer (R) and members of the Greek rescue service (in red) excavate a site Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The fresh search of the area where the toddler was last seen was prompted by new information

Police searching for missing toddler Ben Needham on the Greek island of Kos have uncovered ancient graves.

The 21-month-old from Sheffield went missing during a family holiday in 1991.

Following a suggestion he may have been killed and buried on the island a fresh excavation of farmland began on Monday.

The four or five graves are believed to date from 1,500 years ago but police said the discovery would not hamper the investigation.

Forensic archaeologists have said they are confident the search is being conducted at exactly the right depth of soil relevant to 25 years ago.

The digging has concentrated on an area around a waste tank.

Nutrients found in the soil have indicated human traces and a full analysis of soil samples will be carried out.

Officers have said they believe the material will most likely relate to a nearby cess tank.

Image copyright Needham family
Image caption Ben Needham vanished on the Greek island of Kos in July 1991 when he was 21 months old

Danny Savage, BBC correspondent in Kos

The graves found in Kos are all believed to contain the remains of adults. They are lying head to toe close to the boundary of the olive grove where the dig is taking place.

Work will continue around them and police said the ancient discovery was not unexpected.

There was initial concern from Greek locals that this would have hindered progress at the site but I have been told by the investigating team here in Kos that is not the case.

The site being searched is on land where Ben was last seen playing while his grandfather was renovating a property 25 years ago.

The Needham family have always believed Ben was abducted but South Yorkshire Police are now investigating whether he was accidentally run over and killed by a bulldozer.

Image caption The search is expected to last about a week

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