Corrie McKeague Search Efforts Focused On Landfill Site
10 February 2017, 12:47 | Updated: 10 February 2017, 13:20
Police investigating the disappearance of RAF gunner Corrie McKeague plan to search a landfill site.
The 23-year-old, from Fife, vanished while on a night out with friends on September 24 in Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk.
CCTV shows that a waste lorry made a collection in the area Mr McKeague was last seen shortly after the last confirmed sighting of him at 3.25am.
The lorry was seized in the early stages of the inquiry for forensic examination and did not reveal any traces of him, but police kept the waste collection line of inquiry under review.
A landfill site in Milton, Cambridgeshire, is where the waste collected from Bury St Edmunds that morning was deposited.
Police said they alerted the site early in the investigation of the possible need to search it, and that no further waste had been deposited in the area of the site where the Bury St Edmunds waste was deposited.
The area identified covers more than 1,100 square yards (920 sq m), with waste up to 26ft (8m) deep.
It is estimated it will take a team of specialist search trained police officers six to 10 weeks to complete the work required.
The safety and welfare of the officers who will undertake the search and the noise and odour implications for local residents have all been factors that police have taken into consideration.
Preparation work is already under way and a full-scale search is likely to start on February 22.
The preparation work will include building access ways to the area to be searched and putting "appropriate facilities on the site'' to allow the search to be conducted in a thorough and comprehensive way.
Officers investigating the case say they have kept an open mind from the start as to what may have happened.
Detective Superintendent Katie Elliott said: "This is the next logical step in the investigation.
"Behind the scenes we have been working systematically through the options and we have examined a very broad range of evidence.
"This has involved an extensive examination of CCTV, phone and social media analysis, searches, media appeals, talking to those who had contact with Corrie, investigating his background and social life and tracing those who were out in Bury St Edmunds at the time of the last sighting - 3.25am on Saturday September 24.''
She said preparation would progress "as quickly as possible''.
DS Elliott said: "We know that physically searching the site has the potential to cause an increase in odour and we hope residents will understand that we and the site owners have taken this into consideration when making a decision to go ahead with the search.
"However, we also hope they will understand why we are doing this as part of our continuing investigation to find Corrie.
"We need to find him and discover what happened to him.
"While the search may not provide the answers as to what happened it is something we need to do as our investigation continues.''
Police are liaising with Mr McKeague's family to keep them informed about what is planned.