London: A three-year-old boy whose disappearance triggered a police search involving a helicopter and sniffer dogs ended happily when he was found dozing peacefully under his bed.

The boy, who has been identified only as Noah, was put to bed as usual and was fast asleep when he was last seen by his parents. At some point he must have fallen or got out of bed and then crawled under it before nodding off.

Later when his mother and father checked him again, his bed was empty, causing them to fear he had been snatched or wandered off into the night.

They dialled 999 and Devon and Cornwall police carried out a quick search of the house before launching a hunt for the boy in and around the village of Abbotskerswell, near Newton Abbot. At least 20 officers, a helicopter and a police dog unit were deployed.

Dozens of villagers, some alerted by social media, also joined the search on Thursday night.

After an unsuccessful two hours, officers carried out an “in-depth” search of the boy’s home and finally located Noah slumbering peacefully under his bed.

A police spokesman said: “The child was subsequently located safe and well. There were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the child going missing.

“A number of local residents in the Newton Abbot area turned out to assist with the search and Devon and Cornwall police were very grateful for the response and offers of support they received from the local community.”

It has been estimated that the operation would have cost around £10,000 (Dh58,500) with a large chunk of that spent deploying a police helicopter. The police said it was difficult to say exactly how much the search had cost.