The search is continuing this morning for an eight-year-old boy who was last night swept into the River Wear in County Durham.

A huge air and land search began last night (Friday) at Sunnybrow, near Willington, involving the police helicopter, the Great North Air Ambulance, police officers and members of the Teesdale Search and Rescue team.

Speaking last night, a Durham Police spokesman said: “The boy, who was playing with friends in the area of the Brown Trout Pub, which is in close proximity to the river, is believed to have fallen from the embankment into the water at approximately 7pm.

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“An extensive search of the river is currently in progress with assistance from the fire brigade. Teesdale Search and Rescue are also providing assistance, along with the police North-East air support unit.”

Officers were also seen scanning the river near to the village of Croxdale.

A villager there said the River Wear had been running fast due to the recent heavy rains.

Describing the incident as a tragedy, he said: “The river is in a very distressed state at the moment and is quite swollen.”

A spokeswoman for the North East Ambulance Service said an ambulance and a rapid response vehicle attended the search.

A spokeswoman for County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service said the fire service had last night left the area, but the RAF and the mountain rescue team would continue the search throughout the night.

The spokeswoman said: "At 1927 hours, we received a call to Prospect Place, at Sunnybrow, Crook. This was one eight-year-old boy, from Sunnybrow, believed to have been in the river.

"A multi-agency approach was co-ordinated by the fire service, involving fire, police, ambulance, Teesdale and Weardale Search and Rescue and the RAF, who have attempted to locate the boy.

"The RAF and mountain rescue team are continuing the search during the evening hours."