A search has got under way for a missing five-year-old girl last seen playing on her bike near her home.

April Jones was playing with friends in the mid Wales town of Machynlleth at around 7.30pm on Monday when she went missing.

There are widespread reports that she was seen getting into a light coloured van which then drove off. Townsfolk are searching for her.

Chris Dudley, who works at the Skinners Arms on Penrallt Street, said the pub was empty with many of the locals in the town looking for the little girl.

"All the locals are looking for her in this area - the cemeteries, the golf field, playing field, everywhere you can think of," Mr Dudley said. "Police are still looking. There's no one in (the pub) tonight, everybody is outside looking for her."

Mr Dudley said police officers were everywhere and they were also searching cars.

Dyfed-Powys Police say they are becoming increasingly concerned for her safety and are asking anyone with information about the incident to call them by dialling 101.

The BBC reports that up to 200 people had gathered at Machynlleth Leisure Centre preparing to join the search for the missing girl. Machynlleth has a population of 2,000.

A picture believed to be of April holding a small pet has been circulating on social media website Twitter as hundreds of people retweet the appeal for the little girl.

Dyfed-Powys Police also confirmed her disappearance on their Twitter account. At 10.40pm they posted a statement saying: "We are increasingly concerned for a missing five year old, April, who was last seen playing on her bike in Machynlleth at about 19:30hrs," it said. "April was seen getting into a light coloured van that drove off."