Alice Gross search biggest since London 7/7 attack

Alice Gross was last seen on CCTV footage at Grand Union Canal in London. Picture:
Alice Gross was last seen on CCTV footage at Grand Union Canal in London. Picture:
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THE hunt for missing schoolgirl Alice Gross has led to the biggest search operation since the 7/7 bombings, Scotland Yard said.

Police have been searching for the 14-year-old after she went missing on 28 August.

Convicted murderer Arnis Zalkalns, 41, has been named as the prime suspect in the disappearance after he too went missing on 3 September.

The Metropolitan Police said that 600 officers from eight forces have searched nine square miles of open land, and 3.4 miles of canals and rivers in the largest deployment for an ongoing investigation since the terrorist attacks of 2005.

Detective superintendent Carl Mehta, said: “Our thoughts continue to go out to Alice’s family as our search continues in a bid to find her.”

Police on Friday recovered a mountain bike belonging to Zalkalns, but would not say where or in what circumstances. Forensic teams scoured a property in Hanwell, west London, where his partner was thought to have previously lived. It is the same area where 14-year-old Alice is from.

Alice has not been since she was spotted on CCTV footage walking alongside the Grand Union Canal in west London.

Zalkalns was seen 15 minutes later riding past the same spot on a mountain bike.

Scotland Yard have insisted they have no evidence to suggest Alice, who suffers from anorexia, has come to harm.

Detectives said Zalkalns, who was convicted of bludgeoning and stabbing his wife Rudite Zalkalns to death in Latvia and served seven years in prison, was arrested on suspicion of indecently assaulting a 14-year-old girl in 2009, but no further action was taken.

The labourer, who works at a building site in Isleworth, west London, is thought to have come to the UK in 2007. Police said on Thursday that it was their understanding there was no record in the UK of his murder conviction.

A reward of £20,000 is being offered for anyone who has information that leads detectives to find Alice.

Zalkalns is white, 5ft 10ins, of stocky build and with dark brown hair that he normally wears tied in a pony tail.

Police have asked anyone who sees him to phone 999.