A desperate search for a little girl who disappeared from her family’s tent 24 hours ago has taken an alarming turn as police searched vehicles leaving the site.
Cleo Smith, four, was last seen at about 1.30am on Saturday at the Blowholes site on the coast near 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.
A frantic search is underway after Cleo Smith disappeared from her family’s tent during the early hours of Saturday morning. Pictured: Cleo in the outfit she was wearing when she went missing
‘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 encounter very often.
“We’re throwing everything at everything, but right now we don’t have any answers about where Cleo is.”
Police are not ruling out the possibility that she may have been kidnapped, after urging every newsroom in Western Australia to broadcast details about the missing girl on Saturday.
The Carnarvon community has gathered around the family and helped in the search (photo, the campsite where Cleo went missing)
Cleo Smith went missing while camping with her family at the Blowholes site near Carnarvon in Western Australia (pictured, four-year-old Cleo left with mother Ellie)
“We are still at a very early stage,” Inspector Munday said.
‘Everything is on the table and hopefully we will rule them’ [leads] outside when we go.’
Cleo’s heartbroken mother Ellie Smith begged for help finding her young daughter.
‘It’s been over 24 hours since I last saw the sparkle in my little girl’s eyes! Please help me find her,” she wrote in a Facebook post on Sunday.
“Last seen at 1:30am and gone when we woke up from our shared tent at 6am. Very unusual for Cleo. If you see anything unusual or suspicious, call the police.”
The young girl was wearing pink one-piece pajamas with a blue and yellow pattern when she was last seen.
On Saturday, a large-scale search took place and on Sunday it started again from first light.
The crews consisted of land, air and sea teams that searched the shoreline at and around campsites near where the family was staying.
Posters have also been posted at roadside restaurants within a 1,000km radius of the site and police are investigating dash camera and CCTV footage from the area.
A major search for the missing toddler entered its second day on Sunday
Police Inspector Jon Munday said experts have advised the four-year-old could have wandered as far as 5.2 km from her last known position if she were lost in the bush.
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 traveled anywhere up to 3.2 miles from her last known position if lost in the bush.
So far, SES volunteers have searched 1km both north and south of the site and about 700m inland, with authorities convinced that she is not in that area.
Inspector Munday said there have been no reports of suspicious activity in the area during the hours she was missing.
“The parents did interact with Cleo in the early morning hours,” he said.
SES volunteers prepare equipment during their search for missing toddler Cleo Smith on Sunday
“It has been reported that a sleeping bag is missing. Other than that, I really don’t have the liberty at this point to reveal what else we think we’re missing.
“Needless to say, we’re very concerned about Cleo’s safety.”
Inspector Munday said Cleo’s parents were devastated with hopes of their little girl’s safe return.
“The family is understandably very distraught,” he said.
‘They are very well supported, [but] they are devastated and don’t know what to do.’
The Blowholes Campground, also known as Point Quobba, is known for its scenic views of the blowholes.
Carnarvon Shire President Eddie Smith told The West Australian the family were well-known local residents and the community was there to assist in the search.
“Everyone hopes for the best,” he said.
“The community is very concerned. Everyone is trying to jump on board and do what they can to help and we are all praying for a positive outcome.
“It’s a terrible feeling, but I beg everyone to stay positive and stay positive and keep thinking like that.”
The Blowholes campsite is also known as Point Quobba (photo)
Carnarvon buildings and storefronts also aided the search, with posters urging anyone with information to contact police.
Users flocked to Ms. Smith’s post, “I can’t stop thinking about her. I hope she is found safe and sound,” one commenter wrote.
While another said: ‘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 companies that worked on the quest.
The company is said to have canceled tours to assist in the search and bring in large helicopters to have three people in one helicopter looking for young Cleo.
The page hopes “to help support these small local businesses in their efforts in this quest and to help the family continue the quest to bring Cleo home.”