Fears for missing girl, 11, off coast

A MAJOR search is underway for a missing 11-year-old girl off the Essex coast.

A TEAM of Metropolitan Police divers are this lunchtime to join the search for the body of a ten-year-old girl who went missing off the coast of Essex yesterday afterboon.

The girl was playing with another 10-year-old girl off Clacton beach when their dingy capsized just after 4pm yesterday afternoon.

A man who saw the incident went into the sea and rescued one girl. He then went back into the water but was unable to locate the second girl.

When he came ashore he needed medical attention after taking on a lot of water and in a state of exhaustion and was taken to hospital.

The rescuer has since been discharged, but the girl and her mother are at Colchester General Hospital where they are recovering from shock.

Thames Coastguard, Clacton Coastguard Rescue Team and Clacton inshore lifeboat are currently involved in the search for the missing girl, who is feared dead.

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The girls were in Clacton on a day-trip with one set of parents. The missing girl's mother travelled from Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire last night to meet police and watch the search operation take place in the early hours of this morning.

The rest of the girl's family arrived in Clacton this morning.

The search extends as far as Point Clear, while a police diving boat was moored next to Clacton Pier this morning. Divers are searching the area under and around the pier.

Floodlights have been set up to aid the search, while mobile police units are patrolling the beach, which was closed yesterday.

This morning the Martello Bay area of the beach was re-opened but red flags are flying to indicate that swimming is not allowed.

Despite the good weather, the beach is totally empty.

A rescue helicopter from RAF Wattisham and a police helicopter are also involved in the air search.

During the night, police officers and coastguard officials scoured the coastline with the aid of the police helicopter which provided lighting.