Missing six-year-old: There's no such thing as "stopping" here - A village is looking for Arian

In the Lower Saxony village where six-year-old Arian is missing, the air on Friday is clear and fresh from the rain.

Missing six-year-old: There's no such thing as "stopping" here - A village is looking for Arian

In the Lower Saxony village where six-year-old Arian is missing, the air on Friday is clear and fresh from the rain. Houses in the village are built of brick or painted red - like in Scandinavia. Birds sing, otherwise it's quiet.

Elm is an idyll. If it weren't for the papers. They hang on house doors. And they also hang in the center of the village, taped with masking tape, to a shop window in which pictures from past village festivals are displayed. "Dear Elmer, you are asked to help in the search for Arian!"

Arian, an autistic person, has been missing since Monday evening. According to his parents, he had only recently learned how to open doors. A surveillance camera filmed him waving a stick around in the street after disappearing from his parents' house. Then he rushes towards the forest - and the trail is lost. The father reports his child missing. The search for Arian begins that night. Since then, hundreds of firefighters, police officers, Bundeswehr soldiers and volunteers have been helping.

Several groups in uniform are standing in front of the community center in Elm in Bremervörde. Those who don't wear a uniform are faced with serious, tense faces. It's day four of the search - and shift change: those tired from the night leave, new helpers arrive. You feel the heaviness, the tension.

Difficult operation with special search operations

It is a search under difficult conditions. Arian doesn't speak - and probably wouldn't respond to calls from strangers. The routing slips therefore contain important information for the helpers. For example, they shouldn't call the boy's name because he might react fearfully and hide. Helpers should pay attention to piles because it is possible that the boy may cover himself with heavy material when he is resting.

If helpers find him, only one person should approach him, crouch down next to him - and not touch him. Under no circumstances should anyone cheer. If he is lying down, leave him in that position. "Medically absolutely necessary," they say.

All of this shows how difficult the operation is. The helpers therefore take unconventional approaches to get Arian's attention and then find him. They place candy and balloons and set off fireworks at night because Arian likes that so much. They use spotlights that project beams of light into the sky and play children's songs. Emergency services are flying drones, a Bundeswehr tornado plane is in the air, divers are climbing into ponds, police are searching the Oste River and setting up wildlife cameras. Those involved leave no stone unturned - and still can't find the boy.

In the community center, coffee floats in paper cups, helpers hand other helpers halves of rolls with sausage, cheese and jam. Jörg Böttjer is dry, but the rain bothers him. Böttjer is 51 years old and is a drone pilot for the volunteer fire department. If it rains, the device cannot fly. This is due to the model of the drone, he says. On Thursday they saw deer in the rapeseed field and rabbits. But not Ariana.

Residents: “The village is growing together.”

Elm is small, but the village bakery's customers are large. Newspapers are on display, jars of pickles and sausages are on the shelves. There is no supermarket in Elm. A young Elmer in the store says: "The village is growing together." Another customer describes the case as sad. Then she is silent.

In the village, a resident says he found out about the case on Monday evening via the village app. Sirens wailed. The people had gathered at the community center and were then told to go inside so that they would not irritate a helicopter pilot. Then the search began. “It went through the woods,” says the man. They searched until 5:00 a.m. or 6:00 a.m. "Everyone is there, everyone goes along." That's how it is in Elm, where almost everyone knows everyone.

The villagers are now only supposed to search when asked to do so, the man says. That has to do with the sniffer dogs. You shouldn't destroy the trail. The note, which is hanging in several places in Elm, also says: "Please search your properties intensively at regular intervals." The villagers immediately assert that this is what they are doing, no question about it.

This Friday, Bundeswehr soldiers are walking through the village searching, garbage cans are also being searched, which is why the garbage collection is not running. Then it's midday and the church bells ring. The birds continue to chirp. It has stopped raining, drone pilot Böttjer may now be able to take off again. Later, emergency services set their sights on the sewer system, checking channels and ditches in fields for possible hiding places. A "quiet strategy" is planned for Saturday night - so no fireworks, no music. In Elm they don't give up. They don't want to "stop" here, as we hear again and again.