Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Ben Needham search: Farmhouse extension demolished

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Media captionThe farmhouse extension, built after Ben went missing, was torn down within 15 minutes

Police searching for missing toddler Ben Needham on the Greek island of Kos have demolished part of a farmhouse.

The property's extension was built after the 21-month-old from Sheffield went missing in 1991.

South Yorkshire Police said the owners had agreed to officers "dismantling the lower part of the building".

Ben's family believe he was abducted, but police are investigating whether he was accidentally killed.

Speaking at a press conference ahead of the demolition, Det Insp Jon Cousins, of South Yorkshire Police, said: "Early this afternoon I will be dismantling the lower part of the farmhouse including the ground around it... just making sure that I haven't missed any opportunity to get the answers that we require.

"The [Greek] family are clearly upset about what we're doing. They have very kindly agreed to allow us to do that and I am extremely grateful. Clearly it's going to be a very distressing time for them.

"This is where many generations, including the current generation, were born and grew up and we've got to deal with it as sensitively as possible."

Investigators were alerted to the fact the extension was not built in 1991 by a newspaper photograph from the time.

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

A team of 19 South Yorkshire Police officers, forensic specialists and an archaeologist are excavating the site where Ben was last seen playing 25 years ago.

The search, now in its ninth day, was prompted by a police tip-off following a television appeal in May.

Image caption Search teams have been examining soil from an olive grove next to the farmhouse

Ben's sister Leigh-Anna said: "We just feel numb and very empty and the moment.

"We're a family that's lived in hope for 25 years that one day he will walk back through that door and now we're facing the possible reality that he was there all along."

A friend of digger driver Konstantinos Barkas, who had been clearing land with an excavator on the day the toddler went missing, told police the man may have been responsible for Ben's death.

Mr Barkas died of cancer last year.

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