UK

Private company to join search for two-year-old who fell into river

A search was launched to find Xielo Maruziva after Leicestershire Police received reports that the little boy fell into the water on February 18.

A private company has joined the search for Xielo Maruziva
Xielo Maruziva A private company has joined the search for Xielo Maruziva (Leicestershire Police/PA)

Underwater search experts from a private company are to join the operation to find a two-year-old boy who fell into the river Soar.

A search was launched to find Xielo Maruziva after Leicestershire Police received reports that the little boy, who was with family members, fell into the water on February 18 in Aylestone Meadows, close to Marsden Lane, Leicester.

The force has been supported by specialist diving teams from Nottinghamshire Police and Lincolnshire Police, and search and rescue teams from across the region and country.

On Tuesday, experts from Specialist Group International (SGI) – a private company which was involved in the search for Nicola Bulley in the River Wyre in Lancashire last year – will join the operation after “further conversations with search specialists and Xielo’s family”, police said in a statement on Monday.

Assistant Chief Constable Michaela Kerr, of Leicestershire Police, said: “We continue to be grateful to the support we’ve been shown by the public and colleagues from other forces and agencies.

“We’re in regular contact with Xielo’s family and are continuing to support them in what remains a very upsetting time.

“Our search operation to locate Xielo continues to widen as we know he may have travelled further from where he went into the water, and potentially outside our force area.

“I would like to reassure you that our operation is continuing and our teams will be carrying out co-ordinated searches at various points along the river.”

She continued: “Our decision to involve SGI in the search (is) in liaison with Xielo’s family and having spoken to both the company and independent specialists.

“I’d also like to remind the public that the river is dangerous and that they should not go into the water themselves.”

Leicestershire Police Assistant Chief Constable Michaela Kerr
Leicestershire Police Assistant Chief Constable Michaela Kerr Leicestershire Police Assistant Chief Constable Michaela Kerr (Jacob King/PA)

The search for the boy is in its second week, with the focus on the stretch of river around Watermead Park and Birstall over the weekend, police said.

Xielo’s parents described their son as a “cheeky, funny” boy who is “a bundle of joy”.

His mother said: “Me, his dad and the whole family are so heartbroken at what has happened. We thank everyone who has supported us and helped us during this time. We are extremely grateful for this.

“All we want is for Xielo to be found as soon as possible.”