Specialist officers searching for missing teenager Liam Smith are dealing with “challenging and harsh terrain”.
Extensive searches for Liam, who disappeared almost two weeks ago, continued near Crathes yesterday in driving rain and 70mph winds following an “unprecedented” response from the public.
Chief Inspector Martin Mackay said: “The terrain we are searching is extremely challenging – not helped by the weather – and even our own officers are finding it difficult to navigate certain areas.
“They are trained and experienced to do this and we will continue to ensure all the land we need to cover is searched effectively.”
He added that due to the difficulties of searching the area, police were not seeking help from the public as they look for the 16-year-old.
“I know many members of the public are still offering to assist with searches and please don’t think your offers of help are being ignored,” he added.
“I must stress just how challenging the land is we are dealing with, ranging from dense wooded areas to expanses of water and we don’t want anyone put in harm’s way.
“Organised public searches can also be very resource and time-intensive to co-ordinate and our time is extremely precious at the moment.”
Ch Insp Mackay encouraged the public to continue to help in other ways however.
“Firstly, I know people will be out walking in the Crathes Estate area anyway whether it’s to walk your dog or cycle and I welcome anyone’s efforts to keep an eye out for anything that could help us locate Liam.
“Please help us by sticking to visible routes and paths and don’t put yourself in any danger.
“If you find anything of any significance, let us know as soon as possible by calling 101.
“Liam was carrying a camouflage North Face rucksack and was wearing Nike Air Max trainers.
“He bought Lucozade, Jaffa Cakes and Dairy Milk at Sainsbury’s before he left Aberdeen.
“I also continue to urge anyone with information that could help us establish why Liam would head in the Deeside direction, or if he has mentioned places of interest to you in the past, to let us know.”
In total, officers have received 139 reported sightings from the public in various locations across the north-east, including Inverurie, Kemnay and Rothienorman, with Ch Insp Mackay saying the response had been “unprecedented”.
However many of these sightings have now been eliminated.
Ch Insp Mackay added: “I would ask the public to continue supporting our efforts which have so far included sharing our social media posts and printing off posters.
“The response to our appeals has been unprecedented and it has not gone unnoticed by Liam’s family nor us.”
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Liam was last captured on CCTV at Union Square shortly before he boarded the 202 1.11pm Stagecoach bus which would have taken him in the direction of Banchory.
Unfortunately, the CCTV on board the vehicle was not working but the company said it had been “working very closely with police” to help trace Liam.
A spokeswoman for Stagecoach said: “This has included providing a significant amount of CCTV footage to police from a number of different vehicles to help them gather information about his movements, as well as providing them with contact details for all our drivers who may have seen Liam.”
Liam is described as white, around 6ft 4ins tall and of slim build. He has short brown hair and walks with a distinctive gait.
Anyone with information can contact police on 101, quoting reference number 1302 of November 18.