River Thames search for man feared drowned at Sonning

Franciscus Van De Gender Mr Van De Gender walks with a stick

An extensive search is being carried out on a swollen river in Berkshire where a 91-year-old man is feared to have drowned.

Franciscus Van De Gender, known as Franz, from the Woodley area of Reading, was reported to be missing from home in the morning.

The police boat and helicopter, and an Environment Agency boat, have been searching the River Thames at Sonning.

Mr Van De Gender's empty Ford Escort car was found near the towpath.

'No trace'

Police said investigations revealed that he arrived in Sonning at about 13:30 GMT.

Sgt Alex Clough said: "We have searched both sides of the riverbank from Sonning to Henley and there has been no trace of Mr Gender.

"At this stage we do not believe Mr Van De Gender's disappearance to be related to flooding.

"I would urge anyone with any information about this whereabouts to contact police urgently."

Mr Van De Gender is described as 5ft 10in, of medium build and he walks with a stick.

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