Page last updated at 20:54 GMT, Thursday, 21 February 2008

Hundreds join missing girl search

Shannon Matthews
The nine-year-old has never gone missing before

About 200 people are helping police as the search for a missing nine-year-old girl enters its third night.

The last confirmed sighting of Shannon Matthews, from Moorside Road, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, was when she left school on Tuesday.

But detectives are treating a reported sighting of her the day after she disappeared as "significant".

Family, friends and local residents have joined the 250 police officers who are looking for Shannon.

Julie Bushby, chairman of the Moorside residents' association, said: "That is the type of neighbourhood this is and we are so grateful to everybody who has been getting involved.

"It's been absolutely fantastic."

'Very concerned'

Mrs Bushby said local shops and businesses had been handing out tea and coffee to the search teams.

Earlier Det Supt Andy Brennan, from West Yorkshire Police, said: "We are very concerned. This is a nine-year-old girl who has never been missing previously.

"Under normal circumstances we would expect to have found a young person a lot sooner than this, which causes great concern."

Shannon's step aunt, Amanda Hyett, told the BBC that the girl's mother Karen was "distraught".

"She wants her daughter back, like any other mother would do.

"Her brother this morning was devastated. He had to go to school, obviously, because you have got to carry on as normal the best that you can."

Mr Brennan said one witness was "100% sure" that he had seen Shannon on Wednesday morning.

Other sightings included one on the playing fields behind Shannon's school on Church Lane between 1830 GMT and 1930 GMT on Tuesday and another in a park at the junction of Staincliffe Road and Heckmondwike Road.

BBC map of search area

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