THE disappearance of Mikaeel Kular deeply affected the people of Edinburgh, with hundreds volunteering to search when he was reported missing.

Few had any sense of the tragedy that was about to unfold when news first emerged that a three-year-old boy was missing from his home in the city.

Mikaeel's mother was said to be distraught as a major ground, air and sea search was launched for her son around the family's flat in Ferry Gait Crescent in the Drylaw area. Nikki Garrick, 36, said the whole community went out. She said: "We just feel betrayed. She was begging for everyone to go looking for him - she was in her house asking police to get everyone to help."

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Simone Evelyn, 29, was also one of the original search party who went looking for Mikaeel.

She said: "We went out in our hundreds - I would say over 200 at least. I think I can speak for the whole community when I say we feel betrayed. It makes you more angry because she just let the community go out and look."

Swamped with offers of help, police began to form search parties to comb the area, with many turning up to volunteer.

Some were parents themselves, even pushing prams, eager to help in a situation described by one as "every mum's worst nightmare".

The volunteers joined hundreds of officers in the hunt, alongside coastguard and lifeboat teams, helicopters, search dogs and the emergency services. But as the second day of the search wore on, the sense of unease surrounding the circumstances of Mikaeel's disappearance began to grow.

In the early hours of the Saturday everyone's worst fears were confirmed.