Leicester: Zimbabwean boy missing in river is bundle of joy, says mother

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Xielo entered the River Soar, in the Aylestone area, at about 17:00 GMT on Sunday.

A police search to find him, involving specialist teams, is now into its fourth day but has been hampered by poor weather.

Xielo has been described by his mother as “a bundle of joy”.

In a statement his family thanked everyone involved in the ongoing search.

His mother said: “Xielo is a cheeky, funny, friendly, smart, caring and independent little boy.

“He never fails to make me laugh or smile and always loves a cuddle and some kisses.

“Xielo loves playing with his toys and watching cartoons including Bino and Fino.

“Me, his dad and the whole family are so heartbroken at what has happened.

“We thank everyone who has supported us and helped us during this time. All we want is for Xielo to be found as soon as possible.”

Search crews look for the boy in waters near the river

IMAGE SOURCE,PA MEDIA Police said the boy’s family were being supported by officers

Leicestershire Police have been supported by a number of specialist teams as they search for Xielo.

Officers previously said they had recovered CCTV footage they believe shows the boy falling into the river.

His father, who entered the water to try to rescue Xielo, said: “He is a charming and creative little boy and has just started at nursery.

“He loves cuddles, playing with his toys and going to the park.

“As a family we have been completely devastated over the past few days as the search for Xielo continues. It is hard to describe the pain and suffering we are going through.

“We would like to thank the search teams at the scene.

“We would also like to thank members of the public for all of your support. It is your prayers which are keeping us strong.”

Search teams in the water

IMAGE SOURCE,PA MEDIA Image caption, Police said the search remained “very much ongoing”, despite the bad weather

Assistant Chief Constable Michaela Kerr said adverse weather conditions had made the search more difficult on Wednesday.

She confirmed the incident was still being treated as a missing person inquiry.

“As we now enter the fourth day of the search for the missing boy, we have been truly overwhelmed by the support we have received from forces and other agencies across the country as well as from our communities and the wider public,” she said.

“While the weather conditions today do make the search more difficult for us, this will absolutely not stop our dedicated and specialist teams at the scene from doing everything they can.”

The Metropolitan Police’s marine recovery dogs and rescue teams from Kent and West Mercia forces joined the operation on Tuesday.

The National Police Air Service and a drone unit have been supporting officers on the ground, while teams have also used night-vision goggles to search the water at night.

Environment Agency officers have also supported the operation with specialist mapping equipment, which has assisted police in identifying key search areas.

Leicestershire Police said officers had received a “large number of responses” from an appeal for witnesses to come forward.

However the force has urged members of the public not to attempt their own searches.