A police chief paid tribute to the unpaid volunteer mountain rescue teams who have been taking part in the search for missing Machynlleth girl April Jones.
At least two dozen different teams joined the hunt for five-year-old April, who was last seen playing near her home on Monday.
Teams from as far away as North Yorkshire have joined rescuers from Wales in an extensive search for the girl, without success.
The search by mountain rescue teams has now been suspended, and police teams will continue the operation.
A spokesperson for Mountain Rescue England and Wales, the umbrella body for teams south of the border, said: “Our focus here has been to find April, applying our skills to the intelligence available to us.
“We have now reached a point where we have exhausted the search of areas best suited to our skills, given what we currently know and the tasks now being generated are more suited to specially trained police search teams.
“As such mountain rescue operations will be suspended this evening. We have worked very closely with the police and remain on-hand to assist with the search if the police consider it appropriate. Meanwhile local teams intend to return as and when possible.”
Superintendent Ian John of Dyfed-Powys Police said: “I would like to pay tribute to the mountain rescue teams who have worked themselves to a standstill in the search for April.
“This morning, we have deployed 10 specialist police teams who are continuing to conduct a systematic and methodical search in and around the town.
“We continue to have the support of a whole range of specialist teams as we continue our efforts. We will see change in resourcing but not in intensity as we move forward with the search.
“We are maintaining the momentum of the search and we remain totally focused and committed to finding April.”
The Mountain Rescue England and Wales spokesperson added: “Over the last week the unpaid professionals of Mountain Rescue England and Wales have contributed an estimated 9,250 man-hours to the search for April.
“To put that into context, this would take one person well over five working years.
“Initially our task was to help co-ordinate the fantastic efforts being made by local volunteer searchers, and conduct searches around the residential areas of Machynlleth.
“The scale of the operation quickly increased and mountain rescue teams and search dogs were brought in from throughout Wales, and subsequently from across the UK. As other teams have stepped in to ensure continuity of cover in home areas, this truly has been a response of unprecedented scale.
“Throughout the week and over the weekend the specialist mountain, cave, water and dog teams of mountain rescue have been working through a systematic search plan based on current search management science.
“This has involved an overhead team of approximately 20 experienced search managers and administrators co-ordinating the efforts of on average 200 searchers per day.
“Members of mountain rescue receive no payment or expenses, and have only been able to attend here with the support of their families and employers.
“Similarly the support received from the people of Machynlleth has been extraordinary and we cannot put in to words our appreciation for all they’ve done for us.
“This is a harrowing time for April’s family and the community, and our thoughts are with them all.”
- Mark Bridger, 46, has been charged with murder, child abduction and attempting to pervert the course of justice in connection with April Jones’s disappearance. He is due to appear at Aberystwyth Magistrates tomorrow, Monday.