A MAJOR search is continuing for a retired pitman who vanished after setting off on his regular walk.

Concerns are growing for 89-year-old William Jones who was last seen going for his daily walk in Ferryhill, County Durham, yesterday (Friday) at 4pm.

Mr Jones walks many routes in and around the town but failed to return to the Derwent Road home he shares with wife Janet, 85.

Worried family members carried out their own search for Mr Jones, who walks with the aid of a stick, before raising the alarm at 7pm.

Twenty police officers and sniffer dogs were aided by 20 members of the Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue scoured the town and surrounding countryside overnight.

The extensive search continues today but has so far proved fruitless and police are now appealing for residents to check their homes and gardens.

Inspector Mark Hall, of Ferryhill police, believes the slight pensioner may be sheltering.

He was last seen wearing light brown corduroy trousers, light brown jacket, brown shoes and a grey cap.

He has grey hair and is around 5ft 6in tall.

Inspector Hall said: "Obviously as time goes on our concerns deepen.

"He may have fallen or become confused and wandered off into allotments or the countryside or more likely sought shelter somewhere.

"There will be no let up in our hunt for him which will continue until he is found.

"Ferryhill is a small town and many people will know of Mr Jones because of his regular daily walks.

"By carrying out checks around their homes and gardens local people can become our eyes and ears to help us find this man as soon as possible."

Dave Bartles Smith, Teesdale and Weardale team leader, said: "We were called out by the police at 8.30pm on Friday night.

"After 9 hours of searching I stood the team down but we have recommenced the search at 9am Saturday with Mountain Rescue Teams from Swaledale and Northumberland.

"The missing gentleman is 89 years old and is wearing a light brown jacket, brown trousers and brown shoes.

"He wears a cap and has a walking stick. If anyone sees this gentleman could they please contact the police."

Anyone with information should call Inspector Hall on 0345-60-60-365.