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14th Jul 2023

‘Our only hope now is that Émile has been taken and is alive’ says French mayor

Kat O'Connor

French mayor Francois Balique has spoken out following the disappearance of a two-year-old boy in France.

The toddler has not been seen since he wandered from his grandparents’ house in a small village near the Alps. Émile has been missing since Saturday but has not been found despite extensive searches.

The toddler was playing outside his grandparents’ home near Le Vernet before he vanished.

Yesterday, the police called off the physical search after days of looking for Émile.

The mayor of Le Vernet has now said their “only hope is Émile has been taken and is alive”.

He told Le Figaro newspaper, “Our only hope now is that he’s been taken and is alive. It’s the last thing we can hope for and it’s already terrible.

“We could conceive that someone wanting a child passed by the area, saw this beautiful little boy, and took him away. He couldn’t survive alone in the wild, that’s for sure.”

He confirmed that police and search teams have left the village, but the investigation will continue elsewhere.

Drones, sniffer dogs, and an audio recording of the young boy’s mum’s voice were used during the search. Over 500 people also volunteered to help find Émile.

They searched through forests and around the village but failed to find any clues.

Émile lives in Marseille but was visiting La Vernet with his maternal grandparents for a summer trip. The family was preparing to go on a hike before the young boy disappeared. There were reportedly 10 people at the house when he went missing.

Police have admitted they still have “no clue” about what happened to Émile.