A desperate search to find a little girl who vanished 24 hours ago from her family’s tent has taken an alarming turn as police search vehicles leaving the campsite.
Cleo Smith, four, was last seen at about 1.30am on Saturday at the Blowholes campsite on the coast at Macleod, north of Carnarvon, in Western Australia.
When her family woke up[ about 6am, Cleo was nowhere to be seen.
Campers have been leaving the site as emergency services scour the area, which was not ordered by police but is preferred.
Inspector Jon Munday said officers have been stopping cars and caravans to search interiors and take drivers’ details before vehicles leave the area.
‘We are trying to paint the picture of who was around here during the window of opportunity between the early hours of Saturday morning and 6am Saturday and what leads that could give us,’ he said.
As a major search operation nears the end of its second day, Mr Munday said detectives were no closer to finding the little girl or clues about her mysterious disappearance.
He said it was very unusual for a child to disappear from a tent they shared with their parents during the middle of the night, and confirmed her sleeping bag was also missing.
‘Unfortunately we have not had any major breakthroughs,’ he told reporters on Sunday.
‘[The disappearance] is extremely concerning and not something we come across very often at all.
‘We are throwing everything at this, but at this point in time we do not have any answers about where Cleo is.’
Police aren’t ruling out the possibility she has been abducted, after urging every newsroom in Western Australia to broadcast details of the missing girl on Saturday.
‘We are still in very early stages,’ Inspector Munday said.
‘Everything is on the table, and hopefully we will be ruling them [leads] out as we go.’
Cleo’s heartbroken mother Ellie Smith issued a plea for help finding her young daughter.
‘It’s been over 24 hours since I last seen the sparkle in my little girl’s eyes! Please help me find her’,’ she wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday.
‘Last seen 1.30am and gone when woken up at 6am from our shared tent. Very very unusual for Cleo. Please if you see anything unusual or suspicious call the police’.
The young girl was wearing pink one-piece pyjamas with a blue and yellow pattern when she was last seen.
A full scale search took place on Saturday and began again from first light on Sunday.
The crews consisted of land, air and sea teams searching the coastline in and around campgrounds nearby where the family was staying.
Posters have also been put up at roadhouses within a 1,000km radius of the campsite and police are poring over dash camera footage and CCTV footage from the area.
A full team of Perth detectives and forensic officers have joined the investigation to assist detectives from Carnavon and Geraldton.
Inspector Munday said experts have advised the toddler could have travelled anywhere up to 5.2km from her last known position if she is lost in the bush.
So far, SES volunteers have scoured 1km both north and south of the campsite and around 700m inland, with authorities confident she is not in that area.
Inspector Munday said there have been no reports of suspicious activity in the area during the hours she went missing.
‘The parents did have an interaction with Cleo in the early hours of the morning,’ he said.
‘It’s been reported that there is a sleeping bag missing. Other than that, I really am not at liberty at this point to divulge what else we believe may be missing.
‘Needless to say, we just hold grave concerns for Cleo’s safety.’
Inspector Munday said Cleo’s parents were shattered as they hope for the safe return of their little girl.
‘The family is understandably very distraught,’ he said.
‘They have been very well supported , [but] they are devastated and don’t know what to do.’
The Blowholes campsite, also known as Point Quobba, is known for its scenic views of blowholes.
Carnarvon Shire president Eddie Smith told The West Australian the family were well-known locals, and the community were out in force helping with the search.
‘Everybody is hoping for the best,’ he said.
‘The community is deeply concerned. Everyone is trying to jump onboard and do what they can to help and we are all praying for a positive outcome.
‘It is a terrible feeling but I just implore everyone to remain positive and keep positive and keep thinking like that.’
Carnarvon buildings and shopfronts were also assisting with the search, with posters being placed urging anyone with information to contact police.
Users flooded to Ms Smith’s post: ‘I can’t stop thinking of her. I hope she is found safe and well,’ one commenter wrote.
While another added: ‘I pray your daughter is found safe, what a reunion that will be. Stay strong, Your family is not alone’.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to donate money to two local helicopter businesses which have been working in the search.
The company’s were said to have cancelled tours to help with the search, bringing large helicopters in to have three people in one chopper looking for young Cleo.
The page hopes to ‘help support these small local business’s for their efforts into this search and to help support the family to keep the search going to bring Cleo home’.Internet Explorer Channel Network