Questions and Answers: The Desperate Search for Julia

Julia disappeared since Sunday. The child probably got lost on a family hike, but the numerous search helpers and dogs have so far not found any trace of the eight-year-old in the rough terrain. Questions and answers about the missing person case.

Since when has eight-year-old Julia disappeared?

The child disappeared on Sunday while playing in the forest on Cerchov Mountain. Julia’s parents were hiking there with their two children and a nephew. The children played and moved away from their parents. When they could no longer be found, the family notified the rescue workers. The couple’s six-year-old son and nine-year-old nephew were eventually found, with the eight-year-old daughter missing.

Where is the search area?

The summit, known in German as Schwarzkopf, is about two kilometers from the German-Czech border, roughly in the middle of a triangle made up of Waldmünchen, Furth im Wald and Domazlice. The area near the border was a restricted military area during the Cold War.

Are there any signs of a crime?

According to the information so far, the adults lost sight of the three children who were playing in the forest. The police assume no crime and that the eight-year-old has got lost. “It is difficult terrain, there is deep forest all around,” said Czech police spokeswoman Dana Ladmanova.

What search measures have been taken?

The police released a video showing emergency services combing the forest in a long line. A helicopter with a thermal imaging camera was also in use. Several hundred emergency services – police officers, mountain rescue workers and firefighters – have been looking for the schoolgirl in the area with dog teams in the past few hours. The Czech police are also involved in the search. Foresters and employees of the Bohemian Forest National Park (Sumava), who are familiar with the rough and sometimes rocky terrain, are also involved. The Sumava National Park borders on the oldest German national park in the Bavarian Forest. A police spokesman announced that the so-called Alpine task force will help. The police officers, who are specially trained for operations in the mountains, come from southern Upper Bavaria to the Upper Palatinate, according to the spokesman.

Can you help with the search?

The authorities called on all citizens who were on the Cerchov mountain and its surroundings between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Sunday to report immediately to the police emergency number. However, the police in both countries asked to refrain from private searches. “We ask you not to dare to climb the mountain, but to stay down here on the streets and in the surrounding communities to keep your eyes open, simply so as not to put yourself in danger here,” said a spokesman for the police headquarters Upper Palatinate. “Not that we might have to rescue or even look for other people from the mountain.”

Why can’t the search dogs find the child?

Susanne Melichar from the rescue dog squadron Bayerwald, based in Cham, told the “Passauer Neue Presse” that area search dogs and person detection dogs, so-called mantrailers, would try to smell the missing Julia. Area search dogs are able to comb 100,000 square meters of impassable terrain within an hour. Together with the owner, they formed a team, according to the teacher. “The dog searches freely around him for any human scent.” A mantrailer, on the other hand, needs olfactory articles for the missing person, such as pajamas or a hairbrush. He started his search at the “secured last whereabouts” of the disappeared. “The mantrailer tracks the person just as the person left.” The mantrailer can differentiate whether a scent trail is younger or older. It would be ideal, according to Melichar, “if mantrailers specify the area and area dogs search it”. However, there are possible sources of error, for example if the brother also used the hairbrush or if the mother folded her daughter’s pajamas. “Then it’s their turn to smell them too.” Mantrailer had partly recorded traces in the afternoon, said police spokesman Josef Weindl on Monday. The search in the area did not lead to any result.

How dangerous is the situation for Julia?

The heavily forested terrain with rocks and gorges is considered impassable and sometimes dangerous. The police are now talking about a race against time. “The chances of the girl are decreasing by the hour,” said police spokesman Weindl of the “Passauer Neue Presse”. “A child can do it for two days without eating or drinking,” he said. The cold is the big problem. In the past few nights, the temperatures had moved around freezing point. The child may have found some protection in a cave. “Every hour is important,” said Weindl.

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Who will take care of the family?

The girl’s family is looked after by psychologists. Crisis intervention team members stand by the family. Among other things, they provide them with the latest information and keep in touch with the operations management team. Georg Stadler, team leader of the Freyung-Grafenau crisis intervention team, described in the “Passauer Neue Presse” that it is often a matter of listening or simply being there.