Missing Corrie McKeague: Police to resume landfill site search

Police are to resume searching for missing airman Corrie McKeague at Milton landfill site, which was previously searched from March-July. Picture by Mark Westley
Police are to resume searching for missing airman Corrie McKeague at Milton landfill site, which was previously searched from March-July. Picture by Mark Westley

Police are to resume the search for Corrie McKeague at the Milton landfill site, it was announced today.

The decision to resume the search for the missing airman at the site has been taken after thorough consideration of all the issues involved, police said.

After re-checking the data available to the Major Investigation Team, it was concluded the area of the original 20-week search was still the location with the highest likelihood of finding Corrie. However, the nature of waste disposal and its movement is not a precise science and during the inquiry officers have had to acknowledge and understand the potential for variance in the information they have to work from.

The pause following the initial search, which took place between March and July, has given detectives the opportunity to scrutinise the data again.

The extended search, which is likely to take four to six weeks, will concentrate on an area of cell 22 next to the site of the earlier search. Police say the indications are that this is the next most likely area where Corrie could be.

Detective Superintendent Katie Elliott said: “Throughout this rigorous investigation we have remained committed to following all reasonable lines of enquiry in our endeavours to discover what has happened to Corrie.

“Confronted by the variances in the way waste can be deposited and through further investigation, we cannot discount the possibility Corrie may be elsewhere in cell 22. Therefore, we believe our decision to extend the search area is the correct one.

“We have spoken to Corrie’s mum and dad to explain our decision and share in detail the reasons behind it. We will, of course, continue to work together with Corrie’s family as the inquiry progresses.

“We can only hope that over the coming weeks the resumption of the search brings the answers we are all hoping for and especially, of course, for Nicola and Martin.”

Corrie was last seen in the area of Bury St Edmunds known as the ‘horseshoe’, where there was a bin lorry collection at around 4.15-4.20am on September 24, 2016. Only one bin was collected from the area that morning. Waste from it was initially taken to a transfer station at Red Lodge and then to the Milton landfill site.

On-site preparatory work for the resumption of the search will start this week, with the full-scale search likely to start once this has been completed.

A review of the Suffolk Constabulary investigation is being conducted by the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU). The constabulary’s decision to extend the search is supported by the review team, although its report has yet to be concluded.

Factfile:

- Size of total landfill site: 485,623sqm. An average size football pitch is 7,140sqm

- Size of cell 22: 10,000sqm

- Approximate volume searched between March and July 8,200 cubic metres. A 25m Swimming pool is approximately 375 cubic metres

- Deepest point searched: 6m

- Approximate volume of new area to be searched: 1,831 cubic metres

- Approximate remaining volume in cell 22: 87,018 cubic metres