French search for missing schoolboy Pierre Barnes is scaled back

 

The search for a British schoolboy who disappeared on a holiday island off the south of France has been scaled down.

Pierre Barnes, 12, vanished on Saturday after he was caught up in a severe storm during a bike ride on the island of Porquerolles, near Toulon, on the Mediterranean coast.

His father Stephen, 57, has admitted he believed his son is dead and said his family could now only hope that the youngster's body is found.

Mr Barnes, a property developer from Grantham, Lincolnshire, said: "In truth, we are just hoping to find a body now.

"As soon as they do, they will alert us, but there is nothing else that, as a family, we can do now."

During a press conference held yesterday, Mr Barnes said the search operation would be halted today as another storm is expected.

"There is no hope of finding Pierre alive and the urgency of finding a body is much less imperative," he added. "They are planning to carry on when the storm has passed, but it will be at a slower pace and with few people."

French authorities in charge of the investigation insisted that inquiries would continue.

More than 150 local volunteers joined the search to find Pierre and the day after he disappeared rescuers found one of his shoes on a coastal path, alongside his bike with its chain off.

He had disappeared just hours after arriving on the island for a half-term holiday with his family.

A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: "We can confirm that a British national has been reported missing in France.

"We are in touch with the French authorities and we are providing consular assistance."

PA

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