Police name river fall boy, eight
A specialist police search team searches the River Wear after an eight-year-old boy fell into the swollen river
An eight-year-old boy believed to have fallen into a rain-swollen river while playing with friends has been named by police.
Ian Thomas Bell, from Sunnybrow, County Durham, is thought to have fallen into the River Wear, near Willington, County Durham, at around 7pm on Friday.
A major search operation involving police, the fire service, mountain rescue teams and police divers is continuing this evening.
A Durham Police spokesman said: "Ian Thomas Bell, aged eight, was playing with his friends in the area of the Brown Trout pub, which is in close proximity to the River Wear, where it is thought he has fallen into the water.
"Since then, a major search for Ian has been ongoing with assistance from the fire and rescue service, mountain rescue, the Durham County Council civil contingency unit and a Northumbria Police marine unit, specialising in underwater search and rescue."
The RAF was also involved in the search on Friday night, which continued until 1.30am and resumed at first light on Saturday morning.
The spokesman added: "Police are continuing to work closely with the local community and would like to thank them for their continual support. Police are also keeping in regular contact with Ian's family and updating them as the search continues."
Janice Larnach, the owner of the Brown Trout pub, said the area had experienced heavy rainfall during the last week and the River Wear was flooded on Friday.
She said the boy's brother had told search teams he saw his sibling fall and grab on to a tree branch, which then snapped.
Mrs Larnach said: "His brother said he saw him fall in, hang on to a branch and that snapped but he hasn't been found up to now. It happened just as we were opening and we've had a full-scale search in the area." She said she believed the boy's bicycle had been discovered on the river bank.