Searchers looking for a two-year-old boy who disappeared from his property in rural Manitoba are in a "race against time," RCMP said on Wednesday.
"We're obviously concerned," Manitoba RCMP spokesman Sgt. Bert Paquet told reporters near Austin, Man., where Chase Martens vanished Tuesday evening around 6 p.m.
He was last seen playing outside his home and then "he was just not there anymore," Paquet said.
The temperature in the area dropped to –12 C overnight while searchers combed the area for the boy, who is described as 2½ feet tall and 30 pounds with blue eyes and light brown hair.
He was last seen wearing a blue jacket, black splash pants, a red hat and boots that light up as he walks.
On Wednesday, the search area was widened as hundreds of people gathered to help, singing Amazing Grace before heading out.
RCMP are urging anyone travelling in the area of Highway 34 and Austin to be on the lookout for Chase and to contact their local police department if they notice anything "no matter how insignificant it may seem," said Paquet.
All available #rcmpmb resources remain on scene and will continue to search through the night for Chase MARTENS.— @rcmpmb
"We're looking for any tip that will bring Chase home — anything and everything out of the ordinary."
The focus is to find Chase alive and well. "It is a race against time," Paquet said, "but we're obviously not giving up hope."
Chase's mom, Destiny Turner, told CBC News the boy doesn't tend to wander off. She said he is often with one of the family dogs, but all of the animals are at home.
RCMP officers, along with an RCMP canine unit and air unit, volunteers from the Austin Fire Department and the Winnipeg Police Service Air1 helicopter have been searching since Chase was reported missing.
More than 200 searchers were involved in efforts overnight to locate the boy and the search is continuing.
"We're doing absolutely everything we can at this point," Paquet said.
"The majority of the searchers are parents themselves and they're very determined to do absolutely everything they can to assist us."
Winnipeg's Bear Clan Patrol is also getting involved, sending four of its best trackers to join in the search.
"If they find a footprint or something like that they'll know what to look for. These guys are experts, they're bush guys, they'll know what to do," said James Favel who heads up the group, which usually conducts patrols and searches in Winnipeg's North End.
As soon as the group's members heard about the boy — and the overnight temperatures — they knew they had to help, Favel said.
Earlier on Wednesday the RCMP posted a tweet asking that no one else show up to volunteer because there were already enough searchers. Asked what people can do then to help, Paquet said simply: "Pray."
Austin is located about 120 kilometres west of Winnipeg, between Brandon and Portage la Prairie.
#rcmpmb want to thank everyone who is searching for Chase Martens. We— @rcmpmb
currently have enough resources. Please do not attend the scene.