A NATIONWIDE hunt began last night after two teenage sweethearts went on the run together.

Paul Baxter, 16, and Christine Rylance, 14, pictured, were last seen together outside the gates of her school, Harton Comprehensive, in South Shields, at about 1.30pm on Friday. Christine pushed a scribbled note into a friend's hand, saying she and Paul were leaving together.

Police said last night their families were distraught and struggling to explain why the teenagers had fled.

Det Insp Rob Coulson of Northumbria Police said: "It is baffling to us and to their families as to why they have gone. Both families were aware of the relationship and there is no suggestion that either side disapproved."