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Monday, 25 March, 2002, 13:11 GMT
Massive search for missing girl
Police search railway line for Amanda Dowler
Amanda was last seen near a railway station in Surrey
More than 100 police officers and dozens of volunteers are searching streets and fields for the missing schoolgirl Amanda Dowler.

The headteacher of the 13-year-old's school said everyone was "in limbo" waiting for news on her whereabouts.

Glyn Willoughby, principal at Heathside School in Weybridge, Surrey, said the community was working together to try to find the teenager.

Amanda, also known as "Milly", went missing from Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, on Thursday afternoon.

On all fronts everyone is wanting to do whatever is possible. We just want her back safe and well

Glyn Willoughby, headteacher

Amanda's parents, Sally and Robert Dowler, said finding her alive was all that was keeping them going.

Mr Willoughby said: "The entire community is really in limbo at the moment wanting to know what more they can do.

"Although we are quite a large school we are a close-knit community.

"Her mother works here and our families are close personal friends.

Popular pupil

"My two daughters are at this school and our two families have been on holiday together.

Amanda Dowler
Amanda is nicknamed "Milly"

"So on all fronts everyone is wanting to do whatever is possible. We just want her back safe and well."

He described her as a "bright, cheerful, kind and extremely popular girl" who is a talented saxophone player.

Speaking on Sunday, Amanda's parents said they had no idea what had happened to her.

Amanda got off the train from school one station early to visit a cafe with friends.

She phoned her father to say she was on her way home.

Mr Dowler said on Sunday: "It is my wife's birthday this week and it would be the best present ever if we got Milly home safely for her."

Walking home

Detectives are widening their search of the area around the railway station cafe at Walton-on-Thames.

Shallow sections of the River Mole in Hersham were also searched by marine teams.

Police have also been studying CCTV footage from the Birds Eye Wall's premises which is near Amanda's route home.

It is a numbness - the oddest feeling - believing that she is still out there somewhere

Robert Dowler, father
Amanda was last seen walking along Station Approach towards Rydens Road on her way home.

Mr Dowler described how she had told him she would be home in half an hour.

He said: "She sounded fine.

"Normally she would get off at Hersham station which is closer to home.

"This day she met friends.

Goodbye kisses

"She is a bright, intelligent, witty, loving, daughter.

"She is lovely... we have no idea what has happened to her - millions of conjectures but no idea."

Robert and Sally Dowler
Her parents have made a number of appeals

The search for Amanda has involved house-to-house inquiries, police dogs and a helicopter.

Trees and phone boxes on Amanda's route home have been covered with posters appealing for information about her disappearance.

Mrs Dowler said Amanda's 16-year-old sister, Gemma, was "very worried," and was "trying to keep busy making posters and banners".

Mr Dowler described how on Thursday morning he "went up to the car and kissed them [his daughters] goodbye".

"It is a numbness - the oddest feeling - believing that she is still out there somewhere."

The teenager is described as 5ft 5in tall, slim and with shoulder-length light brown hair.

She was wearing her school uniform of a dark blue blazer, grey skirt and white shirt and was carrying a beige rucksack.

The BBC's Clarence Mitchell
"The community has responded overwhelmingly to help find Amanda"

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