30 August 2014
Last updated at 09:30
A picture posted on Facebook showed Ashya with his mother Naghemeh King
A five-year-old boy with a brain tumour, missing since being taken out of hospital by his parents against medical advice, may be in Spain.
Hampshire Police said on Saturday that Ashya King’s family have “strong links to the Marbella area” and believe they may be travelling there.
Ashya was last seen on a ferry to France after being taken from Southampton General Hospital.
Police described the need to find him as “desperate”.
Hampshire Assistant Chief Constable Chris Shead cautioned it was possible the family could be somewhere other than Spain and asked people on the continent to remain vigilant.
He added: “It is really important that we find him and ensure he receives medical attention at the earliest opportunity.”
Police have said it was likely the battery on the feeding system he uses had run out.
Police think the family may be travelling to Marbella
ACC Shead said it was unclear whether his parents had spare batteries, or know how to recharge them.
He added: “Without properly administered food Ashya’s situation is very serious.”
Police in Marbella have been liaising with officers in Hampshire and will now go to a judge to request the search is spread across Spain.
Ashya had been allowed to leave the ward under supervision of his parents.
Hampshire Police confirmed the family are Jehovah’s Witnesses, but there is no suggestion this is why he was taken.
Brett King, 51, and Naghemeh King, 45, removed him from the ward on Thursday.
Ashya’s father was pictured taking him from the hospital
ACC Shead said the latest information was “positive”, adding: “We still urge everyone to please help us find him.”
In a tweet released by the force on Saturday morning, officers said: “#FindAshya King’s family could be in Spain. Please RT to get the message to friends/family who live and visit there.”
ACC Shead added: “There have been widespread media alerts across Europe, we would now encourage anyone with links to Spain particularly to also help us spread the appeal via social media.
A spokesman for the hospital, which contacted police six hours after they left, said on Friday: “Ashya was a long-term patient who was permitted to leave the ward under the supervision of his parents as part of his ongoing rehabilitation.
“When the length of time he had been absent became a cause of concern to staff yesterday afternoon they contacted police after a search of the site and attempts to contact the family were unsuccessful.”
Interpol has issued a missing persons alert to all 190 of its member countries and said it was treating all information on the case as “high priority”.
Clive Coleman, BBC legal correspondent
Parents have the right to remove their children from hospital unless they are prevented from doing so by a court order – it has not been confirmed whether Ashya was subject to an order.
If doctors are concerned that parents intend to remove a child, deny it the medical treatment it needs, and expose it to the risk of serious harm, they can seek a court order.
This will normally involve CAFCASS (the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service), the non-departmental public body which provides guardians to represent the best interests of children in family court proceedings.
Once an order is in place, any parent who removes their child in breach of the order is committing a contempt of court for which they could be imprisoned.
ACC Shead said they were told by the hospital the youngster was missing at 20:35 BST on Thursday – more than six hours after he had been taken by his parents.
On why the hospital did not alert police sooner, he said: “That is something that we need to look at.”
Officers were keeping an “open mind” on the motives behind Ashya being taken, he said.
The Office of Public Information for Jehovah’s Witnesses said in a statement: “There is absolutely no indication, as far as we are aware, that their decision is in any way motivated by any religious convictions.”
It is believed Ashya’s parents and six siblings boarded a cross-Channel ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg at 16:00 BST and arrived at 20:00.
Cherbourg police confirmed it had searched locally for Ashya, checking hotels and CCTV and had worked with the Hampshire force to activate emergency child rescue alert procedures.
The family, from Southsea, Hampshire, were travelling in a grey coloured Hyundai I800 Style CRDI, registration KP60 HWK.
Police are looking for Ashya’s parents Brett King and Naghemeh King
It is believed Ashya is still in France with his parents and six siblings
The family were travelling in a grey coloured Hyundai I800 Style CRDI, registration KP60 HWK