Edinburgh toddler search extends to coastline

Edinburgh toddler search extends to coastline
A policewoman with a photo of Mikaeel Kular

The search for a three-year-old boy who disappeared from his home in Edinburgh overnight has been extended to the coastline.

A major operation is underway to locate Mikaeel Kular after his mother found his bed empty this morning.

A police helicopter, sniffer dogs, coastguard and lifeboat teams have been tasked in the search for the toddler who was last seen at his family’s flat in Ferry Gait Crescent at around 9pm.

His jacket and shoes are missing and police are looking into whether he might have left of his own accord. Police said there is currently no evidence of criminal behaviour.

A dedicated telephone number has been set up for anyone who has seen the child or has information about his whereabouts.

Neighbours on the modern housing estate have joined the search for Mikaeel, a twin with three other siblings.

One resident, who did not want to give her name, said: “I got woken up at the back of 7am by the police, asking if I’d seen the wee one. I got the fright of my life because I’ve got a child. It’s just absolutely horrific.

“I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. The first thing I did was actually search the stair.”

The neighbour said a group of about 10 mothers have been out in their cars searching the area.

Police Scotland Superintendent Liz McAinsh said the force is using all the resources at its disposal in the hunt.

Asked whether there were any custody issues with the family, she said: ”Obviously we are following all lines of inquiry, there are no concerns that we have at the moment.

“We are following all lines of inquiry with all partner agencies and with the family and the family are being very helpful at the moment.

”As you can imagine, Mikaeel’s mother is distraught. She just wants our help and the public’s help in finding her little boy.”

The police search is focusing on the Pennywell and Muirhouse areas of the city. Coastguard and lifeboat teams have meanwhile been scouring the shoreline in the Cramond and Drylaw areas.

Mikaeel is described as 3ft, of Asian appearance and possibly wearing a beige hooded jacket, blue jogging bottoms, brown Clarks shoes and nightwear.

Temperatures in Edinburgh dropped to 2.3C (36F) last night.

Robert Pearson, chairman of a local residents’ group, said he sent out a plea for help earlier and around 50 people responded.

He said: “We split up into groups of seven to search the area. My group of seven are currently going through the Silverhouse Golf Course at the moment but we are fearful and wary of the fact that we might not have much hours left of light as it begins to get darker.

“We are liaising with Police Scotland and will continue to do so until they say it is unsafe to carry on searching. At the moment they have roughly 70 officers searching the area, but the mood amongst the volunteers is that it is feeling quite desperate just now.”

Neighbour Linda Slattie, 52, said: “We were out this morning looking, down to Muirhouse Park, the community centre, looking in bushes and lock ups and things like that. I’ve been very shocked. It could be any one of our kids.”

Police released a more detailed description of Mikaeel, adding that the youngster has a faded scar on the bridge of his nose and a sore on the left hand side of his mouth.

He may be wearing a grey pyjama top with an embroidered turquoise dinosaur on the chest and black gloves with multi-coloured fingers.

In the House of Commons, Edinburgh MPs expressed their hopes Mikaeel would be safely returned to his family as soon as possibly.

Police earlier detained a man in the city’s Waterfront Gait but said it was unconnected with the boy’s disappearance.

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