Landfill search extended for missing Corrie McKeague
Fresh bid to find remains of Fife airman who vanished in Suffolk last September.
The search for missing Fife RAF gunner Corrie McKeague is to be extended at the landfill site believed to hold his remains.
Mr McKeague, 23, from Dunfermline went missing after a night out with friends in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, in September last year.
Suffolk Constabulary said the decision to resume the search in Milton, Cambridgeshire, was taken after thorough consideration of all the issues involved.
The force said detailed analysis of the data available to the major investigation team has concluded the area of the original 20-week search is still the location where there was the highest likelihood of finding Corrie.
They stressed the nature of waste disposal and its movement is not a precise science.
Since the initial search between March and July, detectives have thoroughly re-examined the original data.
The extended search, which is likely to take four to six weeks, will concentrate on an area of Cell 22 next to the site of the earlier search.
The indications are this is the next most likely area where Corrie could be.
Detective superintendent Katie Elliott said: "Throughout this rigorous investigation we have remained committed to following all reasonable lines of inquiry in our endeavours to discover what has happened to Corrie.
"Confronted by the variances in the way waste can be deposited and through further investigation we cannot discount the possibility Corrie may be elsewhere in Cell 22.
"Therefore, we believe our decision to extend the search area is the correct one."
'We can only hope that over the coming weeks the resumption of the search brings the answers that we are all hoping for.'Detective Superintendent Katie Elliott
Ms Elliot said she has spoken to Corrie's parents to explain the force's decision and share in detail the reasons behind it.
She added: "We will, of course, continue to work together with Corrie's family as the inquiry progresses.
"We can only hope that over the coming weeks the resumption of the search brings the answers that we are all hoping for and especially, of course, for Nicola and Martin."
Corrie was last seen in the area of Bury St Edmunds known as the Horseshoe where there was a bin lorry collection at around 4.15am to 4.20am on Saturday September 24, 2016.
It then took a route that appeared to coincide with the movements of the airman's phone.
The bin lorry linked to Mr McKeague's disappearance was initially thought to have collected a 24lb (11kg) load but police said it was later found to be more than 220lb (100kg).
Police said on-site preparatory work for the resumption of the search will begin this week and the full-scale search is likely to begin once this has been completed.
A review of the Suffolk Constabulary investigation is being conducted by the East Midlands Special Operations Unit.
The constabulary's decision to extend the search is supported by the review team although its report has yet to be concluded.
Police also released some statistics about the painstaking operation:
- Size of total landfill site: 485,623 square metres - an average size football pitch is 7140 square metres
- Approximate remaining volume in Cell 22: 87,018 cubic metres
- Approximate volume of new area to be searched: 1831 cubic metres
- Deepest point searched: Six metres
- Approximate volume searched between March and July: 8200 cubic metres - a 25m Swimming pool is approximately 375 cubic metres
- Size of Cell 22: 10,000 square metres