Five-year-old boy dies after falling in river in Ballymena

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A multi-agency search operation was launched along the Braid RiverImage source, Pacemaker
Image caption,
A multi-agency search operation was launched along the Braid River

A five-year-old boy who was pulled out of a river in Ballymena, County Antrim, has died in hospital, police have said.

A multi-agency search operation began at about 13:00 GMT after reports that the child fell into the Braid River.

The boy was recovered from the water at 15:04 GMT, according to a spokesman from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS).

He was flown by air ambulance to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children where he later died.

Image source, Pacemaker
Image caption,
The child was airlifted by helicopter to hospital in Belfast

The NIAS was alerted to an incident at 13:04 GMT and despatched the air ambulance, an A&E crew and a doctor to the scene.

'Sincerest condolences'

At least four PSNI Land Rovers, firefighters and Community Rescue Service volunteers were also involved in the operation which began at the Ecos Centre, a nature park off the Broughshane Road.

PSNI Insp Shaf Ali said: "I would like to thank everyone involved in the search effort and extend my sincerest condolences to the family at this time."

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Earlier, the NIAS spokesman said: "The thoughts of all involved in the rescue are with the young boy and his family."

The search began near the Ecos centre, but quickly moved along the river, towards the Galgorm Castle Golf Club.

'Swept downstream'

The child travelled more than 6 km (four miles) along the river from the point where he entered the water to the point where he was pulled out.

Image caption,
At least four police Land Rovers were deployed

Sean McCarry, regional commander of the Community Rescue Service, said the boy "accidently fell into the River Braid near the Ecos Centre at Ballymena and was quickly swept downstream".

"Despite valiant efforts by rescuers form PSNI, the Community Rescue Service and NIFRS, the child was carried a considerable distance downstream in the fast flowing river," he said.

Image caption,
Firefighers were also involved in the operation

"A police helicopter continuously relayed the child's position to the rescue teams as they frantically leapfrogged each other in attempts to keep up and complete a rescue.

"As a result of the professional coordination of the responding rescuers, a child was recovered some miles downstream and immediately transferred to the awaiting air ambulance," Mr McCarry said.