Tyne & Wear

Missing river boy Ian Bell's mother 'still has hope'

Ian Bell, who went missing in the River Wear
Image caption Ian Bell is thought to have fallen into the River Wear after a tree branch he was holding snapped

The mother of the eight-year-old boy who went missing after falling into the River Wear in County Durham has said she still hopes her son will be found.

Ian Bell was playing with friends when he went missing near the Brown Trout pub near Crook on Friday.

Claire Bell, from Sunnybrow, said: "We still have hope in our hearts that Ian will be found. We want him home."

Police have scaled back their search but a local community search "will continue until Ian is found."

A 13-mile (21km) stretch of the River Wear has been searched with help from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue, Teesdale and Weardale Search and Rescue, the county council's Civil Contingency Unit and community volunteers.

Image caption Specialist divers and mountain rescue teams have been involved in the search

A specialist underwater camera team from Derbyshire also assisted in the search.

Mrs Bell said: "I have always made sure Ian was aware of the dangers when playing nearby to the river. We are all devastated that we may never find Ian but we will always have hope and will continue to search for him.

"Our friends and neighbours have been fantastic and we would like to thank everyone involved in the search for their help, it means such a lot to the family during this extremely difficult time that we have the support of our tight knit community."

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