Residents of Machynlleth in mid-Wales Continue to Search for 5-year-old April Jones [Video]

Residents of Machynlleth in mid-Wales refuse to go to sleep and many are even committed to take time off of work as the search for 5-year-old April Jones continues. The community has come together in a unified effort to find the little girl who was abducted after getting into a stranger’s van.

It’s a familiar story for citizens of the United States but no one anywhere can get uses to such a tragic event.

April Jones had been playing with a friend near her home before she disappeared in the grey or light-colored vehicle at around 7.30 p.m. local time.

Detectives say they are becoming ‘increasingly concerned’ for the girl, who went missing from the small town.

A large number of officers and specialist teams are investigating April’s disappearance.

An estimated 200 residents gathered outside the town’s leisure centre while others combed nearby woods and playing fields.

April was reportedly wearing a purple padded coat and her blue school uniform.

Police set up road blocks and appealed for information.

Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Powell said police were following a number of lines of inquiry.

He added: ‘Dyfed-Powys Police have launched an intensive search and criminal investigation into the abduction.

“April was last seen playing on a bicycle near her home address at around 7.30pm and was seen getting into what we believe was a light-colored van which then drove off.” He continued: ‘We are obviously becoming increasing concerned for her safety and are asking for anyone with information to please contact us on 101.”

A neighbor, Gwyn Briwnant-Jones, 55, said April, who has a 16-year-old sister and a ten-year-old brother, comes from a loving home.

Her mother Coral, 40, raised the alarm when her daughter failed to return home from riding on her bicycle with her friend nearby.

Mr Briwnant-Jones said: ‘Most of the town has been looking for the little girl.

“April’s mother knew she was playing with another little girl and when she didn’t come home she went to the other girl’s house to look for her. That’s when the girl said April had been taken in a van.”

“They’re a lovely family,” he said. “They haven’t had any problems that I know of.”

Chris Dudley, who works at the Skinners Arms pub, near the girl’s home, said the bar was deserted last night. He said: “All the locals are looking for her in this area – the cemeteries, the golf field, playing field, everywhere you can think of. There’s no one in [the pub] tonight, everybody is outside looking for her.”

Inspector Kevin Davies said “every angle” of the investigation was being covered.

He told the BBC that police dog teams were involved in the operation and that cars in and out of the town were being stopped and searched by officers.

A family liaison officer is also keeping the “devastated” relatives of missing April informed of any developments, Inspector Davies added.

Locals have put up posters of April around the town as part of their search efforts.

Restaurant owner Razul Islam said neighbours saw the youngster playing outside her doorstep before she vanished.

“There are hundreds of people out looking for her,” Mr Islam said. “It is such a small town and nearly everyone is out looking for her – I’m shocked that it has happened in a town like this.”

Petrol station owner Nerys Zjalic said she had reopened the garage to help with the search.

Ms Zjalic, who runs Reads Garage, told ITV Wales: “We’ll stay open all night if we have to. We heard about the search through social networking sites and there were a lot of people going pass our house. My friend called to ask if we would open so people can get petrol to help in the search. Locals are out in full force searching for her.”

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, she said that some people had returned home overnight, but were planning to reconvene their search this morning.

“It just shows the community spirit of the town and how people get together in a crisis to do anything they can to help,” she added.

Ms Zjalic, who knows the missing girl’s family, said people had been coming from far and wide to help with the search.

“It’s unbelievable – you just don’t think that something like that would happen in a small town like Machynlleth. Nothing will be the same again – this is a small little market town and you think children are quite safe but this shows us it’s not the case.”

She continued: “People just can’t believe such a thing has happened. The whole town is devastated and in shock.”

Ms Zjalic said that volunteers had flocked to the town to take part, adding: One lady came in and she had come from Caernarfon, which is North Wales, “so I suppose you are looking at 80-odd miles.” She said “I saw it on Facebook and I couldn’t sleep, so I came down.”

Machynlleth, which has a population of 2,000, is situated in the Dyfi Valley and sits on the southern outskirts of Snowdonia National Park.

Search volunteer Anwen Morris said locals had searched an area with a 30-mile radius overnight using quad bikes and off-road vehicles.

“The most important thing here is to get this little girl home,” she told Sky News.

County councillor Michael Williams, who also joined in the search efforts, said: “People were coordinated by the police and as well as searching the town they went out into forested areas of the valley and wooded areas and out into hamlets and byroads.”

Speaking about April’s relatives, he added: “They are such a lovely, caring family and they are devastated. The community is shocked and stunned over what’s happened.”

Councillor Williams said April’s parents were “a really nice young couple who recently helped to create a very nice garden on their estate with fruit trees. This is a really close knit community – the whole village is sad. Nothing like this has ever happened before.”

Neighbour Rhydian Mason said: “Most of us I think have found out through social networking sites online like Facebook – that’s where I first heard of it – and we all want to see what we can do to help.

“It’s completely heartbreaking. I’m trying to put myself in the shoes of April’s parents and it’s an awful feeling in the pit of the stomach. We’re all out here hopefully to see if we can get a positive outcome to this story, and we’ll do our best even if we’re out all night.”

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

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