April Jones: Parents Thank Public For Support

Lisa Dowd, Sky News Correspondent

The parents of missing April Jones have thanked the public for their support one month on from the five-year-old's sudden disappearance.

Police are continuing their painstaking search for the missing girl, who was last seen getting into a vehicle near her home in the Welsh town of Machynlleth.

Speaking on behalf of Paul and Coral Jones, Ceri Herbert, a family friend, told Sky News: "Obviously they are completely devastated.

"As a parent myself I can't even imagine how they feel but they are devastated and they just want April home, that's their main focus now.

"They're eternally grateful for all the support, they've had lovely letters and kind wishes from all over the world and obviously from the community. Everyone has been working together."

In a statement released by police a month to the day since April was abducted, the couple said they were "overwhelmed" by the amount of resources being used to find their "beautiful daughter".

They said that their lives had been "torn apart".

"We have been continually updated about the investigation and the search for April," the couple said in the statement.

"We are overwhelmed by the massive amount of resources being used and we are extremely grateful that so many search teams are still out there, every day, looking for our beautiful daughter.

"We have been supported by our family, friends and neighbours over the past four weeks and it has been their love and support that has helped us get through each day."

More than 40,000 man hours spent meticulously hunting for April have so far uncovered no trace of her.

More than 150 expert searchers still scour 60 square kilometres of rugged, tree-covered terrain around the town every day.

Mountains, derelict mines, potholes, lakes, the River Dyfi and the town itself fall within more than 300 search areas.

Every five days search teams are stood down and replaced by an equal number of freshly-rested experts eager to start work.

Dyfed Powys Police continue to co-ordinate the massive operation and have vowed to search on into 2013 if necessary.

It is estimated that the search could cost up to £2.4m, and the Home Office has in principle agreed to fund a special grant application to support the investigation.

There has also been significant support from the local community - and across the world - with thousands continuing to wear pink ribbons as a sign of solidarity for the youngster's parents.

April's parents are also understood to be receiving specialist help from police over the festive holiday season. Family-orientated events such as Bonfire Night and Christmas are set to be especially traumatic for her loved ones.

To mark the third week of her disappearance, Machynlleth town hall clock tower was lit in pink as a tribute. On Monday 200 pink balloons were released into the air in Oswestry, Shropshire.

April, who suffers from cerebral palsy, was last seen at about 7pm on October 1 playing out on her bike with friends on the Bryn-y-Gog estate.

Local man Mark Bridger, 46, was arrested the day after and his Land Rover Discovery seized for forensic examination.

He was later charged with the abduction and murder of April.

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