Lockyer Valley search scaled back
QUEENSLAND Commissioner of Police Bob Atkinson today said the extensive search and recovery operation which has been ongoing in the Lockyer Valley will now be scaled back.
Commissioner Atkinson said the exhaustive search since January 10 had included hundreds of QPS and interstate jurisdiction police, defense force personnel and volunteers, and involved air, land and water searches of the Lockyer and Brisbane valleys from Spring Bluff through to Moreton Bay.
"Specialist resources, including cadaver dogs, police divers and Army engineers have been used to fully scour the 663 square kilometre search area three times. Some parts of the valley, such as Grantham and surrounds, have been searched up to six times.
"A team of 12 officers worked to identify and locate owners of some 823 vehicles located during searches or towed from the valley following the floods, and the vehicles have been thoroughly searched.
"Up to 10 helicopters have been used in the aerial search, which encompassed the search area twice.
"This week, water police in canoes will scour reaches of the Lockyer Creek inaccessible by foot or larger craft.
Since January 10, the bodies of 17 people have been located in the Lockyer Valley, and it is believed that three people remain missing from the area.
"The families of the three people who remain missing have been consulted with on the new phase by senior officers. The Grantham community and other key stakeholders have also been consulted and the revised search program has been explained as a part of that consultation process.
As a part of the recovery process for the Lockyer Valley, a temporary police station will operate out of Grantham seven days-a-week for the next six months, bolstered by a 24-7 police response from Gatton station.
"This phase will include police responding to and investigating any reports of possible locations of missing people, and ongoing walking and wading searches as the water level drops and silt recedes.
"Authorities and volunteers will conduct search training activities in the valley for the next 12 months to continue the effort to locate the missing people.
"Police will also be actively involved in searching demolition sites in coming months as homes and structures destroyed by the floods are removed, despite these already being thoroughly searched, including by cadaver dogs.
"The QPS will maintain a heightened presence in the affected areas during this time, to support the community during the difficult rebuilding process,” Commissioner Atkinson said.