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French police find bones of toddler missing in the Alps

French investigators have found the “bones” of a toddler who went missing last summer in a tiny Alpine village and are working to determine how he died, a prosecutor said today.

The discovery is the first major breakthrough in the case of two-and-a-half-year-old Emile, who vanished on 8 July last year while staying with his grandparents.

Two neighbours last saw him in the late afternoon walking alone on a street in Le Vernet, at an altitude of 1,200 metres (4,000ft) in the French Alps.

“On Saturday, the police was informed of the discovery of bones near the hamlet of Le Vernet,” prosecutor Jean-Luc Blachon said.

Genetic testing allowed them “to conclude on Sunday that they were the bones of the child Emile,” he added.

The prosecutor did not give a cause of death, but said that forensic investigators were continuing to analyse the bones.

“The police is deploying means to carry out additional searches in the area where they were found,” he added.

A source close to the case said a walker had spotted the remains.

When he disappeared, Emile had just arrived the day before to stay with his maternal grandparents in their secondary home for the holidays.

The little boy, barely 90cms (35 inches) tall, was wearing a yellow T-shirt, white shorts and tiny hiking shoes, a call for witnesses at the time said.

A massive on-the-ground search involving dozens of police officers and soldiers, sniffer dogs, a helicopter and drones failed to find the boy last July.

A prosecutor said after several days it was unlikely such a young child would have survived in the summer heat.

An initial probe into a missing person soon became a criminal investigation into a possible abduction. The possibilities of an accident or a fall have also remained open.

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