UK & World News

  • 30 August 2014, 5:37

Missing Ashya: Global Hunt For British Boy

A global search is under way for a terminally ill British boy who was taken without consent from his hospital bed by his parents.

Ashya King has a brain tumour and police are urgently trying to find him and his family because the battery for his life-saving feeding tube is likely to have run out.

Hampshire Police say the missing five-year-old's health is likely to deteriorate rapidly.

He was taken from Southampton General Hospital at around 2pm on Thursday and was last seen on a ferry to Cherbourg in France.

Police were not told the boy was missing until 8.35pm that day, more than six hours after his parents Brett King, 51, and Naghemeh King, 45, took him away.

Interpol has sent out a missing persons alert to its 190 member countries and the case has received widespread coverage in the French media.

The case featured prominently on websites and TV news channels, including TF1, France's most popular domestic channel.

Hampshire assistant chief constable Chris Shead said late on Friday: "We have been told by medical experts that the battery life on the machine that administers his food is now likely to have expired.

"We don't know whether the King family have any spares, the knowledge, or any way of recharging the battery.

"If they don't, without properly administered food, Ashya's condition will deteriorate very quickly. With each hour that passes our concern for him grows."

He also warned that the family may have already reached other countries beyond France.

Ashya was operated in hospital last week. CCTV images captured the boy being wheeled from the hospital on Thursday by his father.

The family then boarded a cross-Channel ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg at 4pm with Ashya and six siblings. They arrived in France at roughly 8pm local time.

The family, believed to be Jehovah's Witnesses, are travelling in a grey Hyundai I800 Style CRDI, registration KP60 HWK.

Ashya is likely to be in a wheelchair or buggy. He cannot communicate verbally and is immobile.

Guy Canonici, the president of the Jehovah's Witnesses in France, has told Sky News he has put over 1,000 Kingdom Halls (places of worship) on alert for the missing boy.

In a video posted on YouTube last month, Naveed King said his little brother Ashya had been diagnosed with a brain tumour and was undergoing emergency surgery.

Speaking into the camera in a message directly to Ashya, he said: "I haven't slept. I've been awake all night worrying.

"We love you so much. We're all here for you. Everyone is praying for you. We just want to see your smile again."

Legal experts say it is "unlikely" the King family has committed any offence by taking Ashya out of hospital.

Jehovah's Witnesses believe the bible prohibits ingesting blood and that Christians should not accept transfusions or donate or store their own blood.

Professor Penney Lewis, of King's College London, said: "I think it is possible that if they are found and still won't co-operate that social services could become involved and the child taken into foster care.

"But if it's just about one treatment - a blood transfusion - the court can address that without changing anything in relation to the care of the child."

:: Anyone with information about Ashya's whereabouts should contact Hampshire Constabulary on 101, quoting Operation Aquilion.

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