Cleo Smith's family have spoken publicly about the four-year-old's mysterious disappearance for the first time since she vanished from a remote campsite in Western Australia early on Saturday morning.
Ellie Smith and her partner Jake Gliddon fronted media this afternoon, four days after the little girl went missing from the Blowholes Campground in Macleod, about 50km north of Carnarvon.
Smith fought back tears in an emotional interview while recalling the moment she realised her four-year-old daughter was gone.
She said Cleo woke up at 1.30am and asked for a drink of water. It was the last time they saw her.
Smith checked on her other daughter, Isla, who was sleeping next to Cleo in a separate divider, before going back to bed on an inflatable mattress next to Gliddon.
A few hours later she woke up to Isla wanting a bottle and noticed the tent was open.
"As we passed the divider, I went into the other room and the zipper was open," Smith said.
"Cleo was gone and that was about it for Saturday morning until everything started."
Cleo's sleeping bag was also missing when the couple woke up.
Smith said the "tent was completely open" when she woke at 6am.
"It was about 30 centimetres from open … I turned to Jake and said: 'Cleo's gone'."
Smith, who grew up camping in the area, immediately started searching around the campsite, before getting in the car and "driving around everywhere".
Since Cleo's disappearance, Smith said the family hadn't slept and felt "hopeless and out of control".
"Everyone asks us what we need and all we need is our little girl home," she said.
Search interrupted by bad weather
The search for Cleo was temporarily suspended due to bad weather on Tuesday morning.
Ground and aircrews were stood down in some areas after it was deemed too unsafe to continue searching in the wind and rain. Search efforts were resumed just after 1pm (local time).
Inspector Jon Munday revealed on 6PR on Tuesday morning the bad weather had thrown an additional "spanner in the works".
The campsite's desolate surroundings combined with deteriorating conditions had heightened concerns for Cleo's wellbeing, Inspector Munday said.
"It's a very, very harsh environment. Until today it has been quite warm, and there's limited fresh water around. If she is out in the area, we do have grave concerns for her," he said.
While authorities were investigating two main scenarios – Cleo either wandering off, or being taken by someone – Inspector Munday said crews were no closer to "unravelling the mystery".
"I wish I had some answers for the family, but unfortunately we simply don't know and as the hours go by and the days go by, our concerns get more and more grave," he said.
"We can't rule out she may be still in the area, and we can't rule out she's left the area - that would be our worst case scenario, that paints more of a sinister picture."
Cleo could be interstate by now
Members of the state crime squad had been working around the clock in the desperate hunt for Cleo, with investigators now imploring people across the country to keep their eyes peeled for the four-year-old.
"We are pushing the message out as far as it can possibly go, including interstate about possible sightings," Munday said.
"It is a race against time."
He added that the Blowholes campground "had quite a lot of people in it that night", with investigators working to track everyone there at the time.
"It is a mystery we're trying to unravel, there's a lot of moving parts," he said.
Police were seeking to speak with anyone in the Blowholes area between Thursday and Sunday, with the goal to attain any dashcam footage.
Missing sleeping bag
Police revealed that Cleo's sleeping bag was also missing from the family's campsite, but had remained tight-lipped on what else may have been removed.
Inspector Munday said on Sunday he was not "at liberty to divulge what else may be missing".
He has repeated the assertion that authorities were "not ruling out" any possible cause for Cleo's disappearance.
"We can't take anything off the table," he told Sunrise on Tuesday.
Cleo's dad interviewed by police
Inspector Munday confirmed on Tuesday Cleo's biological father had been interviewed by police as part of the search for his daughter.
Daniel Staines was asked to give a statement at Mandurah Station, 1000km south of where Cleo vanished, Seven News reported.
He reportedly did so willingly and appeared with his parents by his side. There is no suggestion he has anything to do with his daughter's disappearance.
Munday said the interview was "normal police practice" to help investigators "build a really good victimology profile of Cleo and the family".