Montreal police continue search for boy, 10, missing since Monday
The search for a missing 10-year-old Montreal boy centred on a nearby park and riverbank on Wednesday, nearly 48 hours after Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou's disappearance.
Half a dozen firefighters could be seen trudging through fresh-fallen snow as they searched the wooded groves and the riverbank of the park where the boy was last seen on Monday afternoon.
Meanwhile, friends and concerned neighbours canvassed the neighbourhood in small groups in the hopes of finding him.
Issiaka Samassi, who knows the boy's father, said he joined the search in response to a call from the local Ivorian association.
He said searchers were very worried, but still hopeful the boy would be found safe.
"It's already been two to three days, and (it's harder) with the snow, but we still have hopes of finding him,'' he said in an interview.
"We hope to find him at someone's place, that someone took him in and will come forward.''
He described the boy's father as a ``very likeable, very sociable'' person who immigrated from Ivory Coast several years ago.
Kouakou was last seen by his family on Monday, when he left his home in the city's Ahuntsic-Cartierville district for a friend's house but never made it.
Montreal police said they received about 70 tips after triggering an Amber Alert on Tuesday afternoon, including a piece of information from a woman who said she saw someone matching the boy's description at about 2 p.m. on Monday at a park not far from his home.
Deeming that piece of information credible, police officers and firefighters searched the vast greenspace bordering the Riviere des Prairies river Wednesday.
"In these types of investigations, we have to be sure that we didn't overlook anything,'' Insp. Andre Durocher said in an interview.
"Any possible trail, maybe a piece of clothing, maybe a footprint, anything _ that's what we're trying to find.''
A Montreal police officer said Kouakou's parents were not home because they were out searching for the boy with relatives.
A police cruiser was parked outside the parents' house in the event Kouakou came home on his own.
Police said while the disappearance didn't meet the criteria for an Amber Alert, they took the measure given Kouakou's age, the cold weather in Montreal and the fact he has no history of running away.
They said they lifted the Amber Alert late Tuesday night because the criteria to maintain it was no longer being met.
Durocher said police decided to use the alert to help spark the missing person investigation and find the woman who saw someone matching his description.
He added there was no reason to maintain the alert because there was no indication Kouakou had been abducted or that his life was in danger.
Police say the boy, who is French-speaking, is black, has black hair and black eyes and was wearing a black coat with a hood, grey pants and yellow shoes before he disappeared.
Local residents were told to remain vigilant and to keep an eye on any places a young boy may hide from the wintry weather hitting Montreal on Wednesday.