A BODY, thought to be that of missing student Luke Pearce, was found in the River Wear in Durham today (Sunday May 18).

Members of Durham Amateur Rowing Club reported seeing a body in the river near to Baths Bridge, in the Elvet Riverside area of the city.

It was spotted on the St Hild and St Bede College side of the Wear, beneath the riverbanks footpath, at 8.45am, a week after the 19-year-old Durham University student was reported missing following a night out in the city.

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Since concern was raised last Sunday police have been co-ordinating a major search along the river in the city in an effort to try to find the first-year undergraduate, who hails from Hounslow, in Surrey.

He was studying engineering and was a member of St Cuthbert’s Society at the university.

Officers made what was planned to be the final search of the riverbanks on foot, on Friday (May 16), when a crew from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service used sonar equipment to carry out an underwater examination.

Police were joined by members of the university rugby club, team-mates of Mr Pearce, handing out flyers in the city centre, last night (Saturday May 17) in an effort to jog people’s memories in case they had seen him at any point since he left Jimmy Allen’s bar, under Elvet Bridge, in the early hours last Sunday.

Although the body recovered from the river today is yet to be formally identified, Mr Pearce’s family have been contacted and made aware of the development.

A post-mortem was expected to be held later today to establish a formal cause of death.

But Durham Police said that, at this stage, there do not appear to be any suspicious circumstances.

Mr Pearce, described by friends as, “a gentle giant”, was last seen walking beside the river from Baths Bridge towards the bandstand on the city’s Racecourse.

His accommodation was in nearby Parsons Field Court.

Around 30 fellow students joined police, firefighters and members of the Weardale and Teesdale Search and Mountain Rescue team combing the riverbanks earlier in the week.

But, until this morning, no sightings were reported.