Police searching a landfill site for missing RAF gunner Corrie McKeague say “no trace” of the serviceman has been found.
Suffolk Police Detective Superintendent Katie Elliott said officers sifted through 6,500 tonnes of waste in an “unprecedented” search for the 23-year-old.
She said: “Our thoughts are with Corrie’s family as we had hoped that this search would have provided them with the answers about what happened to him.
“Sadly we have not found Corrie, or any trace of his clothing or mobile phone.”
Ms Elliott paid tribute to the officers sifting through the waste, with many needing hydration tablets as they worked in soaring temperatures in recent weeks.
She said: “We have been absolutely committed to finding Corrie and none of us wanted to be in this position, where we are unable to provide the answer.
“This has been one of the biggest and most complex searches of a landfill site in the country. This search process has been reviewed as it has been carried out and what we have learned and the expertise gathered during the search is now being called upon by other constabularies.”
Suffolk Police have commissioned a review of the work completed since the start of the investigation to see if anything further can be done to trace Mr McKeague.
Ms Elliott, who said any new lines of inquiry would be pursued “vigorously”, added: “We have searched the whole area where we believed Corrie could be. We had compelling information that directed us to this area, however we haven’t found Corrie and this is bitterly disappointing.”
Mr McKeague’s girlfriend April Oliver announced last month that the missing serviceman had become a father with the birth of their daughter.
Ms Elliott said halting the search of the landfill site was “not about cost”.
She said: “It’s never been about money in this investigation.
“We have searched the areas where we have information where that waste was deposited.
“Beyond that it’s very difficult to establish exactly where we would search for Corrie.”
Asked how the missing serviceman’s mother Nicola Urquhart took the news, Ms Elliott said: “This is a big milestone because every hope has been on finding Corrie at this landfill site.
“We’re still in conversation with Nicola about this and explaining what the next steps are.”