Alpes-de-Haute-Provence: Search continues for missing two-year-old Émile

emile missing

Efforts to locate Émile, the two-year-old child missing from the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence village of Vernet since Saturday, are becoming “more targeted”, according to the regional officials. 

The search for Émile, the two-year-old toddler who went missing from his grandparents’ garden in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence hamlet of Haut-Vernet on Saturday at around 6pm, continues this week, though authorities are now taking a more focused approach.  

The initial search began in a five-kilometre area around the site where he was last seen, aided by hundreds of volunteers who have scoured the vicinity for any clues as to where the boy may be. This has been in addition to police searches of homes and properties in the village.  

“We were spaced two meters apart,” said one of the volunteers to Le Parisien. “We were in fields, then in wooded areas. We were looking for the slightest clue, a piece of clothing or a shoe that he could have lost.” 


The search area is rural and mountainous, with small streams running through it, but it is the high heat that is causing greater concern.

“After 48 hours, the child should have been found in this (five kilometre) perimetre,” said the prefect of the department, Marc Chappuis, in a press conference held in Vernet, the adjoining village just north of Digne-les-Bains, on Monday 10th July. “We do not stop the search, we do not lose hope.” 

The search is continuing on Tuesday 11th July, but will be adapted to a system that is “more targeted and selective”, according to Chappuis, with the deployment of “specialised means in search of traces and clues” to the toddler’s potential location.

Additionally, from this Tuesday, the site will not be accessible to anyone from outside the town, and it appears that military personnel have been brought in to assist the emergency services in their search. 


According to the public prosecutor of Digne-les-Bains, Rémy Avon, two individuals reported seeing the blonde-haired and brown-eyed child on a road in the village shortly after he is believed to have gone missing. 

However, as of now, there are “no new elements likely to explain the disappearance of little Émile” despite “numerous testimonies from witnesses”, Avon added. 

As for the possibility of foul play, Avon has stated that “no element characterises a criminal offense likely to be at the origin of this disappearance”, although the official did add that nothing is being ruled out at this stage.  

Over 500 further calls were received in response to a call from authorities for information on the whereabouts of the toddler last seen wearing a yellow shirt, white shorts and hiking boots, though the majority were to offer help, according to officials.  

For now, all his anxious family can do is wait – and hope – that Émile is found soon, safe and sound.  


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