The mother of RAF gunner Corrie McKeague has said fresh clues linking a bin lorry to his disappearance can “only mean one thing”.
The waste-disposal vehicle spotted near where the 23-year-old was last seen carried a much heavier load than first thought, detectives said.
It was seen on CCTV near Brentgovel Street, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, around the time Mr McKeague vanished and took a route which appeared to coincide with the movements of his phone.
Despite initial suggestions the load of the lorry was 11kg, police said it was found to be more than 100kg.
Officers will continue to scour a landfill site in Milton, Cambridgeshire, on Wednesday, calling it the “next logical step” in their search efforts.
Responding to the update from Suffolk Police, Mr McKeague’s mother, Nicola Urquhart, wrote on a social media page called Find Corrie: “With the weight of the bin that was lifted the night Corrie went missing has been incorrect and the true weight is over 100kg (sic).
“This can really devastatingly only mean one thing.
“I can only pray that Corrie is found quickly and that we are able to get answers as to how this could have happened.
“Please can I ask everyone on here to try really hard not to speculate just now. Each second waiting to find Corrie is torture enough.
“This page was set up to find Corrie. We still need to do this.
“From myself, Makeyan and Darroch thank you for your neverending support more than ever.”
The drastic difference in the lorry’s load weight prompted police to swoop on a 26-year-old man, who was not the driver, before he was bailed on March 1.
He was arrested on suspicion of perverting the course of justice by misleading officers over the discrepancy, but on Tuesday was told he faced no further action.
Police said correcting the error he provided had placed a “new emphasis on the search”.
Forensic examinations previously found no traces of Mr McKeague in the lorry.
Mr McKeague, from Fife, vanished on a night out with friends on September 24 in the Suffolk town.
The last CCTV sighting of Mr McKeague showed him walking from a shop doorway and into a horseshoe-shaped area in Brentgovel Street, with no sign of him emerging.
Detective Superintendent Katie Elliott said: “We now know the weight of the waste collection from the ‘horseshoe’ on the night Corrie went missing was over 100kg, when the original information we were given indicated that this was 11kg, and this makes our search of the landfill the next logical step to try to find Corrie.
She added: “There was no intention to mislead the investigation, however our discovery, through persisting with this through our inquiries and evidence gathering, now puts a new emphasis on the search.”
The search of the landfill site will take six to 10 weeks, covering around 920 square metres up to a depth of eight metres, police said.
It follows work to move 8,000 tonnes of bulk material to make the area safe to search.
Ms Elliott said: “The search of the landfill is a huge undertaking, and still may not provide the answer as to what happened, but now, with new information uncovered by the officers working on the case, this is the priority.”