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April Jones.

British police investigating the disappearance of a five-year-old girl in Wales charged a family friend on Saturday with her murder although her body has still not been found.

Mark Bridger, 46, a former lifeguard, was charged with the abduction and murder of April Jones and with perverting the course of justice, Dyfed Powys police said.

He is due to appear in Aberystwyth Magistrate's Court on Monday morning.

April was last seen getting into a vehicle on Monday evening. She had been playing on her bicycle with a friend near her home in the market town of Machynlleth.

Hundreds of volunteers had turned out to help police search the surrounding countryside.

Her disappearance also triggered the first use of a national alert scheme in Britain for missing children.

Bridger was detained on Wednesday and police took the unusual step of identifying him as they searched for the girl.

Police said on Friday that he had been arrested on suspicion of murder, indicating that they no longer believed she was alive.

Police had faced a deadline on Saturday to either charge or release Bridger.

On Saturday, Iwan Jenkins, the district crown prosecutor from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in Wales, said: "I now have to advise that, having carried out a detailed review of the evidence gathered so far by Dyfed-Powys police, my conclusion is that there is sufficient evidence to charge Mark Bridger with the murder of April Jones, and that it is in the public interest to do so.

"I have also concluded that there is sufficient evidence to charge the defendant with attempting to pervert the course of justice and child abduction."

Chief Constable Jackie Roberts said in a press conference in Aberystwyth the investigation was "one of the most complex and fast moving inquiries in the history of our force".

She said: "Now that Mark Bridger has been charged with this horrific crime it is time to let the judicial process take its course and time to let the family come to terms with what has happened over the last week.

"In the meantime our efforts to find April will be as meticulous as they have been from the outset of this inquiry until we have exhausted all available options."

Police said the hunt for April was continuing after searchers were stood down on Friday night because of atrocious weather.

Superintendent Ian John said: "This morning we have deployed 10 specialist police teams who are conducting a systematic and methodical search in and around the town.

"We continue to have the support of a whole range of search and rescue teams who are using specialist equipment as we continue our efforts.

"We will be keeping April's family fully updated on progress of this investigation.

"Finally, despite today's announcement, we are maintaining the momentum of the search and we remain totally focused and committed to finding April."