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Toronto police step up search for missing girl; ask residents to search property

<p>Police are urging people in a three-kilometre radius ofthe apartment building where a missing Toronto girl lived to searchtheir properties for signs of her, as they check reported sightings.</p>

TORONTO - Police are urging people in a three-kilometre radius of
the apartment building where a missing Toronto girl lived to search
their properties for signs of her, as they check reported sightings.

Staff
Insp. Larry Sinclair told a news conference today police have stepped
up the search to a Level 3, the highest level, which allows them to
call in outside units for assistance.

Mariam Makhniashvili, 17,
was last seen by her family when she left for school with her brother
on Monday morning (near Bathurst Street and Eglinton Avenue West).

She did not arrive home from Forest Hill Collegiate and the school principal said Miriam was not in any classes.

“This
to the best of our knowledge is completely out of character for her,”
he said, as he explained why the search level has been upgraded.

“She's
been in Toronto for less than 90 days, to the best of our knowledge she
has no friends, and her only relatives in Canada, North America, are
her parents and her brother.”

He repeated an appeal for the girl to contact police to let them know she is safe.

Her
parents have said there was no dispute that would have prompted Miriam
to run away, and police say they have no evidence to the contrary.

“There's
nothing to lead me to believe that there's anything strained with her
relationship with her parents,” said Det. Steve McIlwain, the lead
investigator in the case.

He added while police say there is no evidence of foul play, police are not ruling anything out.

McIlwain
said there were no new leads he could discuss, but confirmed tips
received by police “from all over Toronto” include reports of people
seeing the girl.

“Those are currently being investigated and will be evaluated once the investigators report back,” he said

The
parents lived in Los Angeles for five years before moving to Toronto,
while the girl and her brother lived with their grandparents in the
Republic of Georgia.

The family was reunited when the parents moved to Toronto in June.

Police
have contacted relatives of the girl in Georgia to learn more about
her, and say they are looking at the possibility she may have
encountered problems with students of Russian background because of the
Russia-Georgia conflict.

“That's something we're looking at now
but right now we're treating it as a missing person and hopefully we'll
get some evidence that she's safe and sound,” Sinclair said.

The
girl is 5-foot-3 with light-brown, shoulder-length hair and brown eyes.
She was last seen wearing black pants, a light blue shirt and a dark
blue jean jacket. She was carrying a large black backpack with a green
stripe.

 
 
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