Little Elle's body found 150m from home

 

A SUNSHINE Coast community's frantic search for a three-year-old girl who went missing on a rural property has ended in heartache.

More than 100 community members joined almost 100 emergency workers to scour the Cootharaba property for the girl, who went missing from her home about 1.30pm.

A police spokesman said there were a number of dams on the rural property and teams had waded through one body of water near the residence.

An aerial search was also organised to help police on the ground.

In the early hours of Tuesday, the tragic news came through.

"The 3-year-old girl reported missing in Cootharaba yesterday afternoon has been located deceased,'' police said in a statement.

"Around midnight police divers located the child in a dam approximately 150m from the house.

"Police are investigating the death and preparing a report for the coroner.

"Police would like to thank local community members, SES and Rural Fire Brigade who assisted with the search for the child.

Authorities and locals gather to search for a missing girl on the Sunshine Coast. Picture: AAP/David Clark
Authorities and locals gather to search for a missing girl on the Sunshine Coast. Picture: AAP/David Clark

Earlier, SES acting local officer Stan Ryan said 72 SES and rural and fire personnel were on scene.

"We have been here since 5pm and haven't had any reports of any sightings at this stage," he said last night.

"There's a lot of variations that could happen with this, she could be hiding somewhere, walking somewhere outside our field of search, there could be a multitude of things that could happen.

"If she's out there scared and people call out after her she might now answer and know who they are."

At 9.30pm, police asked for more lights and vehicles, saying the search would continue into the night.

More than 100 members of the local community rallied to help find the little girl, searching the area with torches and calling out her name.

Relative Tina Day said she was very appreciative of all the support from residents who joined the search party for the little girl named Elenore.

"The amount of people who have been helping us out looking has blown us away," she said

Fighting back tears, Ms Day said it was "very out of character" for Elenore to wander away.

"She's a kid and she explores but this is not normal so it's very very stressful," she said.

The girl's aunt Penny Lindsay said Elenore, who is also affectionately known as Elle or Missy Moo, had been in her room playing before she went missing.

"Her mother went down to get the house phone and then she was gone," she said.

"We searched for an hour and half before we called police. That was between 1.30-2pm."

Authorities and locals gather to search for a missing girl on the Sunshine Coast. Picture: AAP/David Clark
Authorities and locals gather to search for a missing girl on the Sunshine Coast. Picture: AAP/David Clark

Local resident Rachael Schofield was among the searchers and said while she didn't know the family, she had heard about the need for help online.

"I live about five minutes away so we thought we should try and help," she said.

"No sign of her, poor little bugger."

Hope Mullin also lives nearby and joined the search, saying as a mother of a child the same age, she didn't know how she'd cope.

"I've got a three-year-old of my own," she said.

"If I was in the same position I'd want everyone out helping me."

Dozens of people were also driving their vehicles slowly along the nearby road with their windows down, shining torch lights out into the dark.

Earlier people had taken to Facebook groups to plead with Cootharaba locals to come and join the search, asking them to bring gumboots and torches.

She went missing in the vicinity of Coothabara Rd and Kabi Rd.