French police widened their search Wednesday for a 9-year-old girl who disappeared during a wedding in the Alps, combing wooded slopes and streams and questioning more potential witnesses.
A photo and description of the girl has been posted and tweeted across France since her weekend disappearance, and the local prosecutor opened a kidnapping investigation. The girl has been publicly identified only by her first name, Maelys.
The national gendarme service said reinforcements were sent in and some 150 police and volunteers divided up Wednesday morning to broaden their search around the town of Pont-de Beauvoisin. Divers, spelunkers, search dogs and helicopters also took part in the search.
“We are not losing hope to find some trace,” gendarme official Jean Pertue told reporters at the scene, in comments shown on BFM television. Broadcast images showed police carefully poking under dense bushes on the slopes of the area, west of Chambery.
Police are questioning some 250 people, including everyone at the wedding as well as at two other parties in town Saturday night, when she was last seen, according to Le Parisien newspaper.
Neighbors’ homes were searched, and many local officials and members of the community are taking part in the search, according to a town hall official.
Local Prosecutor Dietlind Baudoin told reporters that investigators are doubtful that she ran away but are studying multiple possibilities.
The girl disappeared around 3 a.m. Sunday morning, according to the prosecutor. Three police dogs found her trace but lost it at a spot a few meters from the hall where the wedding was held, suggesting she got in a car at that point, according to French news reports quoting regional police.
Police requisitioned photos and videos taken by wedding guests to look for any unusual activity captured on camera, according to French media.