Search for missing boy continues near Levin

Police have released a CCTV image of Alex Fisher and his brother Eric from Monday night (Supplied)
Police have released a CCTV image of Alex Fisher and his brother Eric from Monday night (Supplied)

A man connected with the disappearance of missing boy Alex Fisher has been charged with possessing a knife in the area where the 10-year-old went missing.

The man, in his 20s, appeared in the Levin District Court this afternoon before Judge Stephanie Matthews.

The charge sheet shows Forest Rd, Waitarere, as the area of the alleged offence – the same place where the search for Alex is underway.

The man was granted interim name suppression and remanded in custody until next week and is likely to face another charge.

Police confirmed someone appeared in court this afternoon, but would not discuss any details because of suppression orders.

They have released the last known image of Alex and his brother Eric and are asking for sightings the pair either separately or together.

In a statement from the family, they thank those involved in the search for Alex and have requested privacy.

Meanwhile, items including the asthma inhaler belonging Alex have been found in the search for him.

More than 60 searchers are looking for the boy, who is missing in a forest near Levin.

Alex disappeared from a domain near Waitarere Forest early yesterday where he became separated from a family member.

A search began yesterday afternoon and continued into the night with 50 searchers from Wellington, Taihape, Whanganui, Palmerston North and Horowhenua.

The search today has turned up his asthma inhaler, asthma spacer and pencil case, and police are now focusing their search on part of the forest called South Block.

"Obviously for us the concern is growing. If he doesn't have his asthma inhaler with him his health is of concern," area commander Inspector Sara Stewart says.

Alex's last known movements were captured on CCTV at 6:30pm on Monday, and he was reported missing at 4am yesterday.

In a news conference this afternoon, area commander Inspector Sarah Stewart wouldn't comment on the family member Alex was with at the time he went missing.

She said there was no evidence to suggest foul play.

"This is very much a search and rescue operation looking for a 10-year-old boy who is missing," she said.

District search and rescue coordinator Sergeant Bill Nicholson said the team of 63 which included land and police search and rescue teams were using a technique called "purposeful wandering" and looking for any items which could belong to Alex.

A helicopter with thermal imaging equipment was used this morning and a shoreline search had also been done of the nearby beach.

The team had covered about 80 percent of the South Block, but the scope of the search is fluid and based on any information they receive.

Another night search had been ruled out, and if Alex isn't found today the effort to find him will continue in the morning, Sgt Nicholson said.

Earlier today, Insp Stewart said today's search including the area that was covered overnight.

"They have been searching what is in parts very difficult search area with very tight undergrowth today our plan is to research many of those areas we looked at overnight," she said.

The Air Force joined the search from Ohakea.

A "large number" of items have since been found in the forest area and police are working to figure out if any have significance.

"This is a well-used, well-frequented part of the forest and we're working through items to see if they relate to Alex or not," she said.

Alex, who has asthma, is believed to have had his inhaler with him and was reasonably prepared for the conditions.

"The weather hasn't been too bad. He is a scout, he is sensible young man, and he has some knowledge, he has warm clothing on – a puffer jacket, a sweatshirt and grey trackpants."

She said the family is worried, and have been helpful to police in their bid to find him.

"This is an incredibly difficult time for the family; their 10-year-old boy is missing. They are being incredibly helpful to us; it is really tough for them."

Insp Stewart said there are ways the public can help by providing any information they can and for those who have properties near the forest to check them to see whether Alex is taking shelter there.

"We really ask for the community and those involved to support us, to support them, by staying out of the forest and letting us carry on with our work and our search and also providing any information they can."

When asked whether it was possible Alex had run away, Insp Stewart replied: "not to our knowledge".

Alex was last seen wearing a red hooded sweatshirt, blue shorts and black shoes. He could also have a green/blue puffer jacket and light grey tracksuit pants.

Police have requested the public stay away from the area as search dogs continue tracking.

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