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5-year-old girl found safe hours after she went missing in Gilmanton

A 5-year-old girl was found safe last night, seven hours after she went missing in Gilmanton.

The girl’s family contacted the police at 12:30 yesterday afternoon, when she did not return from playing in the woods off Rollins Pond Road with six other children, said Fish and Game Lt. Jim Juneau. The girl, whose name was not released, is from Bookline and was visiting family in Gilmanton.

She was found a few miles away, Juneau said, at a home on Blake Road in Loudon. The residents of the home found her and contacted authorities.

Officials did not believe the girl was injured when she was found just before 7:30 p.m. Juneau said she was just “a little bit muddy from the knees down.”

When the girl went missing, she was playing in the woods with a group of children under the age of 12, Juneau said.

“And they were just playing kids games and she kind of ran one way, and the kids kind of exited the woods . . . and everybody returns home but her,” Juneau said.

The state Fish and Game Department, the Gilmanton police and fire departments, the state police, a bloodhound unit and other K-9 units assisted in searching a roughly 500-square-acre area for the missing girl. Juneau said the Massachusetts state police sent a helicopter with a forward-looking infrared camera that could have worked to locate her through her body warmth after dark, but it was not needed.

Juneau said the officials and the girl’s family were relieved by the outcome after hours of searching.

“They were very, very grateful,” he said. “As you might imagine, a lot of emotions.”

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