April Jones: Mineshaft Experts Join Search

Mike McCarthy, Sky News Correspondent

Police in Wales searching for April Jones say mineshaft specialists will be joining in their operation over the coming weeks.

The area around the town of Machynlleth where the five-year-old went missing is dotted with caves.

It is now six weeks since April disappeared and the town is trying to regain a sense of normality as Christmas approaches.

Community leaders there accept that her disappearance has had a profound effect on life in the town, which has been the focus of national media attention since April went missing six weeks ago.

Now it is trying to strike a balance between remembering the schoolgirl and moving on for the sake of hundreds of other children in the town.

Mayor Gareth Jones said it was important to make efforts to recapture the routine of normal life.

"I think by now people have a sense that they wish to try to move on as much as possible," he said.

"Obviously that doesn't mean that April and her family are any further away from our thoughts than they were at the very beginning.

"There's just a sense that people see that we owe it to our young people to try to get some semblance of normality back into the way we are living our lives."

Pink ribbons still adorn the town as a mark of support for April Jones' family.

Hundreds are tied to fences, gateposts and door handles. Many people in the town still wear one every day.

Mr Jones said that the effect on the people of Machynlleth remains profound and will probably last a generation.

"People have become a little more wary of their children's whereabouts," he said.

"They are thinking twice about letting their children play outside. It will take a time for people to get back to the way it was."

The sentiment was echoed at Wheeler Fabrics in the centre of town, the store that supplied most of the pink ribbons.

Sam Wheeler said: "The way that families treat their children, what they let them do and the freedom that they let them have.

"It's going to be talked about in more detail than it used to be, which is a shame because future generations of kids might lose out on the freedom that they had."

A pink candle has been lit at St. Peter's Church where five weeks ago hundreds of people gathered for a service in April's memory.

Vicar Kathleen Rogers said it would remain lit until April's body is found. 

Referring to the huge turnout of volunteers who helped with the search for April, she said: "At the beginning there was a lot of urgency.

"It was a hive of activity. Now there is a deep sense of sadness. People are preparing for Christmas and it will go ahead as it always does, but there will be a part of every [church] service that will be for April."