Hopes fade for boy swept off pier

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The Independent Online

Hopes of finding a 13-year-old boy who was swept out to sea at a popular holiday resort were fading today.

The youngster was with friends last night when a wave washed him off the breakwater in Porthcawl, south Wales.

He has not been seen since about 6.30pm yesterday when Swansea Coastguard received 999 calls.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said the survival time in the water at this time of year was estimated to be about three hours.

The coastguard last night scaled down the operation to find the boy, who is thought to be local.

Porthcawl RNLI inshore lifeboat crew and search teams on the shore continued to look for him through the night.

The hunt was resumed this morning and a low-water search of the coastline is due to begin when the tide drops later, Swansea Coastguard said.

Teams have scoured a stretch of the Bristol Channel coastline more than five miles long.

Conditions yesterday when he was swept away were said to be moderate to rough, with a higher-than-average high tide.

An RNLI spokesman said: "We are still searching, we have been throughout the night.

"All we know is that he was washed off the front of the breakwater here and very quickly disappeared out to sea.

"He was with friends and there were fishermen on scene.

"At this time of year in the holidays we get a lot coming down.

"We have got exceptionally big tides at the moment and last night the sea was very rough."

He said the boy and his friends were on the western, seaward side of the wall when the accident happened.

The fire service provided light for the search and a fire engine today remained parked nearby.

Known locally as The Pier, the breakwater is part of the town's harbour wall. It was taped off today.

Lifeboats from Mumbles and Atlantic College were also initially launched in the operation, co-ordinated by Swansea Coastguard, as was a rescue helicopter from RAF Chivenor and a police helicopter.

An MCA spokeswoman said it was unlikely that the boy had come ashore without being seen.

She added: "Someone couldn't survive in the water this long."

A Swansea Coastguard spokesman said: "They were waiting for the low water search which is going to be 1.30 this afternoon.

"When the tide drops back it reveals more of the scene so that is when they will reassemble and do another search."