A TEENAGE soldier washed away by surging flood waters was still missing today.

A search and rescue operation lasting all day yesterday failed to find the 17-year-old, who was swept away while crossing a beck during a military training exercise on moors in North Yorkshire.

The search resumed at first light today

The soldier, who has not been named, was part of a troop sent on a training march just south of their Catterick Garrison base.

The route across the desolate Hipswell Moors meant the soldiers had to cross the rain-swollen Risedale Beck. Nearly 50 troops had crossed the flooded beck when the youth and two others got into difficulties.

Wading into the fast-flowing water, the teenager was swept off his feet by the current and washed away.

The two other soldiers crossing the beck at the same time also got into difficulties but were dragged to safety.

The alarm was raised by an Army officer who was on the march.

Inspector Robert Thorpe, of Harrogate Police, said: "Unfortunately, three soldiers on the exercise struggled in the river.

"The other troops managed to pull two of them out, but we are still searching for the other missing soldier.

"The conditions have been driving rain and the river levels are constantly going up.

"But we will continue searching until we find him and we have to remain positive until circumstances state otherwise.

"The search teams have worked very, very closely with the Army and they have done some fantastic searches."

North Yorkshire Police were called at 9.15am and a major search and rescue operation was launched.

The site was sealed off by Military Police as the search teams were called in to assist the Army.

Army search squads helped the police and two RAF search and rescue helicopters were drafted in.

Members of the Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team joined the Teesdale Mountain Rescue Team in the operation.

The RAF Mountain Rescue Team also assisted and a specialist underwater search team from Northumbria Police was on standby should it be needed.

The search was hindered by the constant heavy rain which fell in the remote area and the low temperatures.

Low lying cloud over the sparse landscape stopped the search teams making much use of the helicopters.

Paul Denning, Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team controller, said the rescue volunteers would continue the search in shifts throughout the night.

He said: "We always start a search believing that whoever we are looking for is still alive - it's a live casualty until we have proof otherwise.

"The conditions are still very poor and the teams are soaked to the skin.

"We have been searching the edge of the stream and the shallow waters on either side along a 2km stretch."

As the water level dropped later in the day, the team went back over stretches they had already searched.

It is not known if the missing soldier is local, but it is understood his family have been told of the incident.

The authorities had last night not released the name of the teenager, who was still on his 26 week basic training course.

He would soon be expected to pick a regiment to move into once he had finished his training.

Major David Cunningham, of the Army, added: "This is a tragic accident and our thoughts are with his family.

"It's a real shock and the people who were there are being questioned over exactly what happened as part of an investigation.

"He was a recruit getting his basic training and the accident took place in one of the Army's regular training areas."

The heavy rain caused chaos across North Yorkshire with wide-scale flooding and road closures.

But the search and rescue teams continued hunting the missing youth until it was too dark to see.