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Family 'devastated' as search continues for missing three-year-old in Tolaga Bay

UPDATE: Police have now confirmed the boy has been located.

The family of a boy missing near Tolaga Bay since yesterday are "devastated", a family friend says.

Gisborne police are seeking sightings of Axel Hambleyn, who was reported missing from his rural Mangatuna home yesterday afternoon around 3pm.

Missing 3-year-old in Tolaga Bay found safe and well

Both police and Axel's family have concerns for his safety.

Missing three-year-old was calling for his mum after spending night in rough bush, says man who found him

A close friend of the boy's mum, Shinae Twist, told Stuff that his mum is "beside herself", adding that the family were "devastated". 1 NEWS has contacted the friend for comment.

Yesterday's search concluded around 11pm, but emergency responders and volunteers returned at 5.30am today to continue the effort.

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Axel was last seen wearing a blue shirt with palm trees on it ands gumboots with sharks on them. Source: Breakfast

Temperatures dropped below 4 degrees Celsius around 3am in Gisborne overnight. Today's forecast is a high of 20 degrees, with fine weather and light winds.

Axel was last seen wearing a blue shirt with palm trees on it and blue gumboots with sharks on them.

He is believed to be on foot and was initially with a miniature white fluffy dog. The dog was located safe last night. 

According the dog's owner, the dog returned alone about 4pm yesterday after the boy's mum noticed him missing around 1pm.

In a social media post, Damon Jeffery said he was concerned something was wrong when the dog didn't return immediately after being called.

"After three hours my dog came back alone. If he can hear me, he always comes when I call him. And we were yelling and whistling for hours. There's no way he couldn't hear me calling him. The only reason he wouldn't have come straight back Is if something was wrong. And to come back alone really worries me.

"The dog wasn't wet or covered in mud. And it's weird for him to take off like that, so he would have been following Axel.

"I have taken my dog back in the direction he came from to see if he would lead me anywhere in particular but there was just too many people around and he was too excited to be of any use."

Meanwhile, Gisborne Mayor Rehette Stoltz has urged those in the area to "please check your backyards".

Anyone who has seen Axel or has any information which may assist police is asked to phone 111 and quote event number P046388324.