A nine-year-old girl has mysteriously disappeared from a wedding attended by nearly 200 guests, prompting a huge search amid growing fears for her safety.
Maëlys De Araujo has not been seen since 3am on Sunday at the event in Pont-de-Beauvoisin, Isère.
Police have interviewed 180 people who were at the wedding.
Maëlys attended the wedding with her parents – her mother is a cousin of the bride – and her older sister.
Maëlys De Araujo has not been seen since 3am on Sunday at the event in Pont-de-Beauvoisin, Isère
One of the guests, identified only as Gregory, told Le Parisien: ‘The DJ for the evening announced on the microphone that a child had disappeared. Suddenly, everyone started searching, in the main hall and outside.
‘It was anguish. To see the disappearance of a nine-year-old, that’s not nothing.’
It was initially thought she may be asleep after playing a game of hide-and-seek.
Gregory told the French newspaper he believes the young girl was kidnapped. Police have been carrying out searches of nearby woodland, as well as surveying the area with a helicopter and searching rivers and sewers near the scene of her disappearance.
Police dogs have not been able to pick up Maëlys’ scent, suggesting she did not walk out of the hall where the wedding was being held, Le Figaro reports.
‘Obviously, we are exploring all leads,’ prosecutor Dietlind Baudoin told a news conference more than 48 hours after the girl disappeared.
Around 100 police including divers as well as cavers and dog handlers have been searching for the girl.
Divers could be seen searching for her Tuesday in the nearby Guiers river.
‘Given the time that has elapsed since the disappearance of the young Maelys and given the resources that have sadly been deployed in vain to find her, the criminal possibility can no longer be ruled out.’
A source close to the investigation said ‘each passing hour’ makes kidnapping more likely than the possibility that Maelys was involved in an accident or ran away.
‘It’s likely she got into a car,’ the source told AFP.