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The BBC's Jon Brain
"Detectives say they do anticipate making further arrests today"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 5 July, 2000, 05:00 GMT 06:00 UK
Search widens for missing Sarah
Police in the fields
Police officers and volunteers have been scouring fields
Police in West Sussex are expected to widen their hunt for the missing eight-year-old girl Sarah Payne.

There has been no trace of Sarah since Saturday evening when she disappeared after playing with her brothers and sister in fields near Ferring.

Sarah Payne
Sarah was last seen playing with her brothers and sister
More than 250 people joined 150 police officers to comb the area on Tuesday until torrential rain brought the search to a standstill.

Detectives are encouraging volunteers to return on Wednesday and renew their efforts, in addition to the specialist police teams, including divers and police dog handlers, who have been searching elsewhere.

Two men are still being questioned by police. One man in his 40s, believed to be from West Sussex, was arrested on Sunday.

Police were granted another 24 hours to question him on Tuesday.

A second man in his 30s was arrested on Monday. He is not believed to be local to the area.

Flats searched

Detectives were searching a block of flats on the Sussex coast on Tuesday night.

Searching fields
Volunteers joined police in the hunt for Sarah
Officers were guarding the three-storey block on the seafront at Littlehampton.

Neighbours said a man in his 40s from the building was arrested by a team of officers on Sunday.

They said they also saw police tow away a white van which was parked nearby. One neighbour believed the van had been parked on the seafront for about a week.

Tearful appeal

Sarah's parents made a fresh television appeal on Tuesday night for the child's safe return.

Her mother broke down in front of the cameras and pledged to her daughter: "If she can see us or hear us, we are coming to get you darling."

Police have stressed the arrests do not suggest Sarah has been kidnapped, although fears have been growing that this is the case.


Sarah's mother has led the press appeals for her daughter's return
They have confirmed three more sightings of a white transit-style van, first spotted by Sarah's 13-year-old brother Lee, in the area where his sister went missing.

Assistant chief constable of Sussex, Nigel Yeo, called for the driver of the van and the owner of a grey Ford Mondeo, also seen at the time of Sarah's disappearance, to contact police.

Police have also been interviewing known sex offenders.

Mr Yeo said, despite the arrests, police were keeping an open mind on what had happened to the youngster.

"I refuse to give up hope or give up expectation and will continue to treat this as a missing persons inquiry until I have any other information to tell me otherwise," he said.

Sarah was last seen wearing shiny black nylon shoes with Velcro fastenings and a blue Fred Perry style tennis dress. Her blonde hair is cut in a bob.

Anyone with information about the disappearance should contact Sussex police on 0845 6070999.

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