Police today began painstakingly combing a 1,500 square metre area of forest in their hunt for missing office worker Sian O’Callaghan.
Volunteers were turned away at the 4,500 acre Savernake forest, Wilts., after experts managed to pinpoint the area where the 22-year-old’s phone signal was detected.
The breakthrough saw Wiltshire Police rally specialist forensic teams – and not friends of the pretty brunette or volunteers – to scour the dense woodland.
Insp Mark Wilkinson, speaking at the scene, confirmed technological advances had meant they were now concentrating the search on a smaller area.
He said: ”We’re concentrating on certain geographic areas we need to systematically search.
”The rough idea is to search three areas of 500m squared at a time, then move on the next three and so forth just looking for any clue or evidence that could lead us to where Sian is.
”I apologise for any inconvenience to the public, they have been tremendous so far and we appreciate their help.”
Several coaches had been booked in Sian’s home town of Swindon by hundreds looking to help the search effort and taxi firms had also offered free transport to the site.
Up to 1,000 volunteers were expected — more than double the number of Tuesday’s 400 helpers.
Friends of Sian’s boyfriend Kevin Reape said they understood the police’s decision.
One friend, who did not want to be named, said: ”It’s frustrating but we trust the police are doing what is best.
”We just want her found and safe and well. The response has been unbelievable from people, we just hope and prey Sian is ok and the police find something today.”
Wiltshire Police also yesterday ruled out a link between an assault on a lone woman in Swindon by a van driver on Tuesday and Sian’s disappearance.
Det Supt Steve Fulcher, from Wiltshire Police, said: ”Enquiries have been undertaken and I am content that it is not linked to the disappearance of Sian O’Callaghan.
”There has been some confusion on social networking sites and we would like to make the above clear.”