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‘Heartbreaking’ search for missing two-year-old Xielo Maruziva enters fourth week | UK News

The “heartbreaking” search for a missing two-year-old boy who fell into a river in Leicester has entered its fourth week.

Xielo Maruziva fell into the River Soar at around 5pm on Sunday 18 February while out with his family in the area of Aylestone Meadows, on the outskirts of the city.

More than 200 police officers have been involved in the search operation, helped by specialist divers, search and rescue teams from around the country and marine recovery dogs.

Experts from Specialist Group International (SGI), the private company involved in the search for Nicola Bulley, joined the operation, last week.

Leicestershire Police Assistant Chief Constable Michaela Kerr said: “To be entering our fourth week of searching for Xielo without being able to locate him and return him to his family despite all the team’s efforts is heartbreaking.

“I know that the determination to find him is felt by all who have been involved in the search over the past three weeks, in all conditions, and we are all desperately trying to find answers for little Xielo’s family.”

Police previously said they had CCTV footage which they believed shows the moment Xielo fell into the water.

His father went in to try to rescue his son and was taken to hospital as a precaution, but has since been discharged.

The search has entered a fourth week. Pic: Leicestershire Police
The search has entered a fourth week. Pic: Leicestershire Police

Xielo’s parents described him as a “cheeky, funny” boy who is “a bundle of joy”.

“Me, his dad and the whole family are so heartbroken at what has happened,” his mother said.

“All we want is for Xielo to be found as soon as possible.”

ACC Kerr thanked Xielo’s family for their “bravery and their support” over the last three weeks.

“Our search for Xielo is continuing with specialist teams at the scene and our tactics and strategies continue to be reviewed as we move forward,” she said.

“I continue to thank everyone involved so far – to the teams involved in the search for your professionalism, dedication and commitment, and to the local community and wider public for your continued support and for coming together at this desperately sad time.”

Awaab Ishak: Housing association boss apologises for two-year-old ‘s death – but will not resign | UK News

The chief executive of the housing association that oversaw the home so mould-ridden it led to the death of a two-year-old has apologised – but will not resign.

Gareth Swarbrick, Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH) chief executive, said “no apology will ever be enough” for the death of Awaab Ishak, but he said conversation around his position had “begun to overshadow” the issue.

So, in a statement, he confirmed: “Having spoken to the board, I can confirm that I will not be resigning.

“They have given me their full backing and trust to continue to oversee the improvements and changes needed within RBH.”

Awaab died in December 2020 from a respiratory condition caused by mould in the one-bedroom flat where he lived with his parents in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.

The inquest into the toddler’s death concluded the property he lived in was exposed to “extensive” mould for “some considerable time”.

Politicians have said the death of the two-year-old should be a “catalyst for change in housing standards”.

Mr Swarbrick said he had spoken to Housing Secretary Michael Gove to discuss Awaab and the “issues we face in social housing”.

The minister had summoned him to explain the failures that led to boy’s death.

Awaab Ishak's home
The family’s home

Mr Swarbrick went on: “I want to start by saying how sorry I am to Awaab’s family for their loss – no apology will ever be enough.

“We back the government’s commitment to strengthen the Decent Homes Standard and the importance of the tenant’s voice, which will be reinforced by the Social Housing Regulation Bill.”

Gareth Swarbrick, chief executive of Rochdale Boroughwide Housing (RBH). PIC: PA
Gareth Swarbrick

He said the Association had made a “raft of changes” since Awaab’s death, including changing its disrepair policy, so work to tenants’ homes would not be held up by a legal process.

They have “better connected IT systems” and have introduced mandatory training on damp and mould, as well as improvements for dealing with tenants where English is not their first language.

“We agree with the coroner that the tragic death of Awaab will be, and should be, a defining moment for the whole housing sector,” he added.

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Gove summons housing chief to explain failures

Alison Tumilty, RBH’s board chair, admitted mistakes had been made, and they had “let down” Awaad’s parents Faisal and Aisha

“Having spoken to the board, I can confirm that we have full confidence in Gareth’s leadership. He has the trust of the board. He has extensive knowledge of the sector and the communities of Rochdale.

“Together, we will work to restore the trust of the people of Rochdale and demonstrate that we are a mutual landlord that cares, and cares deeply about our tenants.

“Rochdale Boroughwide Housing is committed to do better, and we will do better.”

The housing ombudsman Richard Blakeway has said he will launch an investigation into more complaints about mould in homes in Rochdale after an inquest into Awaab’s death.