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Dutch police find body of abducted Belgian boy

THE HAGUE (AFP) – Dutch police discovered the body of a Belgian child, whose disappearance five days ago sparked a massive search spanning two countries.

The body of four-year-old Dean Verberckmoes was found in the southern Dutch Zeeland province after a man was arrested elsewhere in the Netherlands earlier during the day, police said.

“We thank everybody who helped and are sending condolences to his family,” they added.

Police said the body was discovered at Neeltje Jans, an island that forms part of the Oosterschelde flood barrier and is popular with Dutch tourists.

Police earlier on Monday also sent out a so-called Amber Alert – issued in child abduction cases – with the description of the toddler and a picture.

The alert came after police arrested a 34-year-old Belgian man in the town of Meerkerk, south of Utrecht, about 120 kilometres northeast of Neeltje Jans.

Verberckmoes was last seen in the Belgian city of Sint Niklaas near Antwerp last Wednesday in the company of the man, only identified as Dave De K, the NOS public broadcaster reported.

De K regularly minded Dean and his younger sister, the toddler’s mother told the Belga news agency.

The man was supposed to take the child to his grandparents on last Thursday and when that did not happen the mother reported him missing.