Police and "hundreds" of local residents have spent the night searching for a missing five-year-old girl who was abducted while out playing near her home.

April Jones was last seen getting into a light coloured van which drove off in the mid Wales town of Machynlleth on Monday evening.

Dyfed-Powys Police said they are becoming "increasingly concerned" for the missing youngster's safety and have deployed a large number of officers and specialist teams to investigate the disappearance. Hundreds of local residents in the small market town are said to have joined the hunt for April on Monday with many continuing their efforts overnight.

Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Powell said police were following a number of lines of inquiry: "Dyfed-Powys Police have launched an intensive search and criminal investigation into the abduction of a five-year-old girl, April Jones, in Machynlleth. April was last seen playing on a bicycle near her home address at around 7.30pm and was seen getting into what we believe was a light-coloured van which then drove off."

Up to 200 people congregated at Machynlleth Leisure Centre as news of the apparent abduction broke to help in the search for the missing girl, according to reports. Police said April had been out in the town riding a bike with a friend before she vanished.

Local restaurant owner Razul Islam said a large majority of the town, which has a population of 2,000, was out in force searching for the five-year-old. "There are hundreds of people out looking for her," Mr Islam told Sky News on Monday night. "It is such a small town and nearly everyone is out looking for her - I'm shocked that it has happened in a town like this."

Machynlleth is situated in the Dyfi Valley and sits on the southern outskirts of Snowdonia National Park.

Anwen Morris, a family friend who is taking part in the effort to find April, told Sky News that everyone in Machynlleth is pulling together to help with the search. She said: "It is such a strong community that we have here, the amount of support we have had overnight has been unbelievable, but the thing is we need this light now, we need these people here now to help us search in daylight and hopefully find her."

As the search efforts stepped up this morning, both locally and globally via the internet, Dyfed Powys Police released fresh information on the five-year-old's last known movements. A spokeswoman said: "Her abduction took place around 7pm in the Bryn Y Gog estate in Machynlleth. It was witnessed by another young child when April was seen getting into a grey or light-coloured van, or van-sized vehicle.

"While the details of what happened are vague at the current time, it appears the suspect left the scene and drove off with April. At the time of her disappearance, April was wearing a purple knee-length coat with grey fur around the hood, her school white polo top and black trousers.