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18 October 2012, 10:06
A team of South Yorkshire police officers has arrived on the Greek island of Kos to examine rubble close to where Sheffield toddler Ben Needham went missing 21 years ago.
The officers are leading a group of specialist search advisers who will be supporting the Greek authorities as they decide whether to excavate the mound, South Yorkshire Police said.
Ben, from Sheffield, vanished on the island in July 1991, when he was 21 months old, after his mother and grandparents moved there from Sheffield.
Despite a number of possible sightings and a range of theories about what happened to him, no trace of the youngster has been found. His mother, Kerry Needham, has spent two decades looking for her son and has consistently said she believes he was abducted and is still alive.
A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: "South Yorkshire Police is leading a team of specialist search advisers who have travelled to the Greek island of Kos to support the Greek authorities as they search for missing Sheffield toddler Ben Needham. "Greek police are pursuing a line of inquiry centred on the grounds of the property from which Ben disappeared in 1991 aged 21 months. Beginning tomorrow, work will begin to examine the ground, including using geophysical ground examination equipment, to determine whether any area should be dug.''
The spokeswoman said other specialist resources had been deployed including a forensic archaeologist and search dogs. She said the operation is expected to last a week to 10 days and follows a Greek police request for specialist support "During the past 18 months, South Yorkshire Police has also reviewed all material held by the Greek police in relation to Ben's disappearance in order to support the Greek inquiry.
South Yorkshire Police (SYP) has also obtained Ben's DNA from Sheffield Children's Hospital. SYP has, for a number of years, supported Ben's mum Kerry and other members of the family.''
Mrs Needham, 41, told the Daily Mirror: "This is an elimination process and that's how I'm dealing with it. It's one of the most important things to happen in 21 years.''