9:44am UK, Monday November 16, 2009
A four-year-old boy has been critically injured after being hit by a distress flare while walking with his family.
Marine distress flares similar to the type which hit the boy in Romford, Essex
Police described it as an "horrific incident" in which the rocket flare appeared to have been set off horizontally rather than vertically.
The boy was out with his mother, father and baby sister in Romford, Essex.
He was taken to Queen's Hospital and later transferred to a hospital in central London, where his condition was described as critical but stable.
Police were called by ambulance staff who initially believed the boy had been struck by a firework.
But forensic officers found the remains of a hand-held parachute-assisted rocket flare close to where the incident happened in Chatteris Avenue, Harold Hill, on Saturday afternoon.
Detectives want to trace a young boy who was asking about the injured boy's condition at the scene before police arrived and a woman driver who offered to take the child to hospital.
Detective Inspector David Cavanagh said: "If you are one of these people, or you know who they may be, please call us.
"We are also keen to hear from anyone who was in or around the area around at the time of the incident who may have seen or heard anything they thought might be suspicious."