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Missing British teen Alex Batty found in France after 6 years, authorities say

U.K. police: Alex Batty found "safe and well"
Alex Batty, U.K. teen missing for 6 years, found alive in France, police announce 01:49

Authorities believe Alex Batty, a U.K. teen who went missing six years ago while on vacation in Spain, has been found in France. 

Batty, now 17 years old, was found in Revel, not far from Toulouse, France when a concerned motorist picked him up, the BBC reported. Broadcasters BFMTV said the driver had spotted the adolescent looking lost and haggard by the side of a road and drove him to a police station, the Associated Press reported.

The teen told the driver that he'd been living in an alternative community with his mother, wanted to live his own life, and he decided to leave. He was taken to the prosecutor's office where his identity was confirmed by family members, the BBC reported.

"He should soon be returning to England," a spokesperson from the Toulouse public prosecution office said to Reuters news agency, adding that the criminal investigation into Batty's disappearance is being led by British authorities.

The Greater Manchester police said in a statement on Thursday they have been "contacted regarding a possible sighting in France of Alex Batty, who went missing in 2017." Officers said they are in touch with authorities in France to confirm the sighting. 

"This is a complex and long-running investigation, and we need to make further enquiries as well as putting appropriate safeguarding measures in place," a GMP spokesperson said. 

Batty left the United Kingdom for Spain with his mother and grandfather for a family vacation when he was 11 years old. The three of them didn't return on their scheduled flight and then disappeared, sparking a massive police manhunt. 

His grandmother told local British media Batty and his mother lived in a commune in Morocco in 2014 as part of an "alternative lifestyle," which she thought lay behind the boy's disappearance. She said they did not want the boy to attend school.

The driver who picked up the missing teen said Batty told him he had been walking for days and sent his grandmother a Facebook message saying he wanted to see her, the BBC reported. He said he had been living in France for two years.

The police said his mother, Melanie Batty, and his grandfather, David Batty, are wanted in connection with the teenager's disappearance and that their whereabouts are unknown.

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