A POLICE team from South Yorkshire will begin excavating two sites on the Greek island of Kos next week, in the search for Sheffield toddler Ben Needham.
The development follows claims that Ben was crushed by a digger when he went missing in 1991 and has been buried rather than missing the entire time.
Work on the island is due to begin on Monday, with detectives speculating that Ben, who was 21 months old when he disappeared, may have been accidentally buried by a digger on a building site close to where he was last seen.
Detectives told Ben's mother, Kerry Needham, to “prepare for the worst” after a man came forward claiming his friend could have buried Ben when he was clearing a building site on the day the toddler disappeared.
Ben had been playing outside a farmhouse his grandfather was renovating when he vanished.
The digger driver, who died last year, dumped material from the building plot at two sites, which are to be cordoned off by South Yorkshire Police and searched.
A force spokeswoman said: "This is due to new information received following a public appeal made by South Yorkshire Police officers in Kos in May this year.
"Those lines of enquiry have been explored and investigated over the last three months and will now result in digs at two sites on the island, close to where Ben was last seen on July 24, 1991.
"It is anticipated this first dig will take the team 10-12 days to complete.
"A cordon will be in place at the scene to protect the forensic work.”
A scientific examination of the scene will involve a series of forensic tents, which will be moved around on a grid system.
The spokesman added: "It is possible that an excavation will be carried out at a second site once work at the first site is over.
"The policing team will be there for some time and the excavation will be painstaking and slow."