Alice Gross: Police search park in hunt for missing girl

Police established a cordon in Elthorne Park as detectives investigated the disappearance of Alice Gross Image copyright PA
Image caption Police established a cordon in Elthorne Park as detectives investigated the disappearance of Alice Gross

Police investigating the disappearance of Alice Gross have searched a park in west London near the canal towpath where she was last seen.

The 14-year-old has been missing since 28 August, when she was filmed on CCTV walking along the Grand Union Canal.

The Met said it searched Elthorne Park, but had "determined this area is not of relevance to the investigation".

Detectives continue to search for convicted murderer Arnis Zalkalns, named as the main suspect in the case.

Image copyright Met
Image caption The hunt for Alice is the biggest Met operation since the 7/7 terrorist attacks in 2005

Earlier, the BBC's Richard Main at Elthorne Park said contractors with strimmers and police divers had attended the park.

Mr Zalkalns, 41, was filmed cycling along the canal 15 minutes after Alice was seen and went missing from his Ealing home on 3 September.

Analysis by Richard Main, BBC London

Elthorne Park is in a few dozen acres of scrubland and football pitches between Hanwell and the River Brent.

The last sighting of Alice was on Trumpers Way which runs parallel to one side of the park and it is here that contractors have been brought in by police to cut back hedgerows and strip out undergrowth.

In the park itself, a series of police cordons are keeping reporters away from a large area of overgrown scrubland, but the wait is occasionally broken by forensics officers in pale blue coveralls travelling back and forth to their vans.

In the distance, a white tent has been set up on one of the tracks down to the river.

The Latvian was convicted of his wife's murder in 1998 and served seven years in jail before moving to the UK in 2007.

On Thursday police staged a reconstruction and released an interactive map showing Alice's last known movements.

Alice's parents urged anyone with information to "please, please help us".

In a statement they said they were "desperately concerned" for her welfare and "every morning brings new agony".

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Media captionA police cadet shows Alice's walk, which police described as "distinctive"

Competitors taking part in the Ealing Half Marathon on Sunday have been told they can wear yellow ribbons in support of the search for Alice.

Det Supt Carl Mehta said: "Alice was last seen on CCTV walking along the canal towpath, heading under Trumpers Way bridge towards Hanwell.

"Since 16:26 BST on that Thursday 28 August she has not been seen. Did you see Alice that afternoon? Have you seen her since? We need your help to find her."

He said Alice's walk was "particularly distinctive" and was similar to that of a power walker - moving her arms up and down as she walked.

The hunt for Alice, from Hanwell, west London, is the largest Met Police search operation since the 7/7 terrorist bombings in 2005, with 600 officers from eight forces involved.

Police have also been searching a stretch of the River Brent where her rucksack was found.

Detectives have been in the Latvian capital Riga as part of the investigation, although Scotland Yard said there was no evidence to suggest Mr Zalkalns was there. The officers are due to return later on Friday.

Image copyright Metropolitan Police
Image caption Arnis Zalkalns has not been seen since 3 September

The force stressed Mr Zalkalns was one of many lines of inquiry.

The BBC's correspondent in Latvia, Damien McGuinness said there was not enough evidence to issue a European Arrest Warrant. However, legal experts believe Latvian police would detain Mr Zalkalns because there is reasonable suspicion a crime has been committed.

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Media caption"Every day without her causes us new heartache, new anguish," the parents of missing teenager Alice Gross speak about their daughter

A reward of up to £20,000 is being offered for anyone who has information that leads detectives to find Alice.

Anyone with information is urged to contact the incident room on 0208 358 0100 or 101.

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