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SALT LAKE CITY — Authorities on Sunday suspended the search for 3-year-old Anndine Jones, who was reported missing on Thursday with search efforts concentrated in the vicinity of McElmo Creek near her home in the Aneth area of San Juan County on the Navajo Nation in southeast Utah.
A press release from the Navajo Division of Public Safety said the decision to suspend the search was made Saturday night.
"The continued deployment of substantial resources after the three days of aggressive searching by air, land and water-based resources has necessitated a pause by these elements to allow them time to recuperate and time for the services to reassess," the statement said.
It continued: "This halt will allow public safety to organize and secure additional resources for subsequent search efforts. Additionally, the Division of Public Safety is assessing what the impact of the Gold King Mine contamination release that occurred on Thursday will have on the search."
Heavy winter storms resulting in fluctuating electrical flow knocked out a plant that treats wastewater draining from the Gold King Mine in southwestern Colorado. Wastewater has bypassed the plant flowing into the San Juan River. McElmo Creek feeds into the San Juan River.
The wastewater treatment plant was installed after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency inadvertently triggered a wastewater spill from the Gold King in 2015, contaminating rivers in Utah, Colorado and New Mexico.
According to earlier reports, the 3-year-old wandered away from her home near Aneth. There was no indication of an abduction so no Amber Alert was issued, the press release said.
The press release said a concurrent investigation was occurring as the search was underway.
"Jones is listed in the National Crime Information Center as a missing person. This has been distributed to all our national partners with NCIC," the press release states.
Community volunteers will continue organizing search teams. The Navajo Police Department will remain in the community to investigate any leads generated by the volunteers.
“We are thankful of the overwhelming amount of support and resources that we received throughout the search. We want to thank our local, state, federal partners, volunteers and the donations made to helped us in covering the terrain in finding this little girl,” Police Chief Phillip Francisco said.
Tribal, national, state and local authorities from three states and some 200 volunteers have searched for the girl by air, land and water.
People are asked to call 505-368-1350 or 505-368-1350 if they have additional information about the case.
Contributing: Associated Press