Boy, 2, missing in French Alps: Sniffer dogs search for human remains

Émile went missing from Le Haut Vernet on July 8

Missing two-year-old boy Emile
Emile is still missing after disappearing from his grandparents’ house on July 8
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Drones and sniffer dogs specialised in finding human remains are reportedly being used in an area of the French Alps where a two-year-old boy went missing more than a fortnight ago.

They were deployed to Le Haut Vernet - a hamlet near Digne-les-Bains - where Émile disappeared on Saturday, July 8.

The drones were used to give an overview and explore less accessible areas, reports French news channel BFMTV.

Their use, along with the sniffer dogs, is to verify that no body is present in the hamlet or surrounding countryside.

"These dogs do not work in the first days of a disappearance when we hope to find a missing person alive,” a source told BFMTV.

Emile was staying with his grandparents when he disappeared as the family were packing the car for an outing.

It is thought that Emile wandered off by himself as he was reportedly seen in the hamlet before his disappearance.

The hamlet is so small that it was not unusual to see children out and about, so a few people who reportedly saw him did not think to raise the alarm.

However, despite village-wide searches with dogs and infrared helicopters, Emile has not been located.

Read also: What is the latest on boy, 2, missing in the French Alps?

‘I am sure the body is not in the commune’

Theories have spread over what happened to Emile.

Some have reported rumours of a car accident, although investigators have not said whether they are following any particular lead.

The local mayor, François Balique, said he believes “there was intervention from an adult”. He told the regional newspaper La Dépêche du Midi: “It was maybe a car driving through too quickly. And the driver, instead of reacting normally, panicked.

“I am sure that the body is not in the commune, we’ve turned everything upside down. He has been moved. There was intervention by an adult, whether he’s alive or dead.”

Plane crash

The village has endured a sequence of unfortunate events in recent years.

In 2008, the manager of a cafe in Vernet, Jeannette Grosos, was killed by a man with mental health issues.

In 2015, the Germanwings Airbus A320 crashed in the mountains, killing 149 people and the pilot. At the time, a resident of the village, Bernard, helped authorities by driving family members to and from the crash site.

To thank him, the airline gifted him and his family tickets for a France-Germany football match at the Stade de France in Paris. This would be the match that was affected by the terrorist attacks of November 2015.