April Jones was last seen wearing a purple jacked near her home (Dyfed Powys Police)
April Jones was last seen wearing a purple jacket near her home (Dyfed Powys Police) Reuters

Police searching for the missing five-year-old April Jones say she "willingly" entered a vehicle thought to be a Land Rover or Ford Connect.

April was seen getting into a large vehicle near her home in Machynlleth at around 7:30pm on Monday, after playing on a bike with friends near her home. It is reported that she entered the vehicle on the driver's side.

Det Supt Reg Bevan told a news conference there was nothing to suggest there was a struggle when April entered the vehicle, which, according to poilice, could be a left-hand drive.

Given the apparent absence of struggle, detectives are working on the theory that April knew the abudctor.

The police have also confirmed that the incident was witnessed by one of April's friends. However, the lack of clarity in their statement means it is currently impossible to confirm the make of the vehicle, and the precise nature of events leading to April's disappearance.

Bevan said: "What the witnesses have told us is that the vehicle looks like a van. They describe it as small at the front and large at the back, so it could be interpreted that this could be something similar to a Ford Connect type van or a Land Rover.

"Furthermore April has been described as getting into the driver's side of the vehicle. This may be because she got in with the driver or that it is left hand drive vehicle.

"We still believe that the van is grey or light coloured, but again these things can be affected by failing light and street lamps.

"The indications are that she got into the vehicle willingly. There's nothing to suggest at this stage there was a struggle."

A spokesman for the police said: "Her abduction took place around 7pm in the Bryn Y Gog estate in Machynlleth. It was witnessed by another young child when April was seen getting into a grey or light-coloured van, or van-sized vehicle.

"While the details of what happened are vague at the current time, it appears the suspect left the scene and drove off with April.

"Many police officers and specialist teams have worked through the night, with extensive searches taking place, and many lines of inquiry are being pursued."

Despite the lack of clarity, police have revealed that April was wearing a purple knee-length coat with grey fur around the hood, a white polo shirt and black trousers.

Police have confirmed that April climbed into the drivers seat of the vehicle (Dyfed Powys Police)
Police have confirmed that April climbed into the drivers seat of the vehicle (Dyfed Powys Police) Reuters

Search continues

Bevan also praised the "tremendous response" to the police's request for help from the local community, many of whom have taken the day off work to volunteer.

It is reported that at between 200 and 300 residents of the town, which has a population of around 2,000, have taken part in the search. Volunteers have been dispatched in groups of 20 to help search in a coordinated manner, while posters of April have been put up around the town to raise awareness.

Bevan said that the police are involved in a "delicate and lengthy process" to get the best information. Fire service and police dog teams have been mobilised, along with two police helicopters, to comb the area.

Meanwhile police have provided specially-trained family liaison officers to support April's family. The force added: "We would like to remind the media to respect the family's privacy at this traumatic time."

Dyfed Powys Police have asked anyone with information to contact a dedicated hotline on 0300 2000 333.