Schoolboy Dylan Alkins still missing off Newhaven

Specialist search teams at Newhaven beach
Image caption Search teams have been looking for Dylan since he was swept out to sea

Specialist search teams are continuing to look for a 14-year-old boy feared drowned after being swept out to sea hours before a storm battered Britain.

Dylan Alkins had been playing at the shore with friends at Newhaven's West Beach, in East Sussex, on Sunday.

His great-grandmother Iris Alkins said the family was "distraught" and hoped the sea would give back his body.

About 50 friends of Dylan's held a vigil for him on the beach.

'Atrocious conditions'

They released balloons and threw flowers into the sea.

One of his friends, Aaron Gilbert, 15, said: "I was hoping it was just a bad dream. I woke up crying.

"We would come down every day in the summer but I never thought he would come down when it was really rough.

"I wish I could have stopped him."

The search for Dylan has been focused along the shoreline between Seaford and West Beach.

Dylan was last seen playing in the surf about 30ft (10m) from the shore at about 16:15 GMT, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said.

None of his friends were injured.

Large waves

Sussex Police said an immediate and an intensive search involving police, coastguard and the Newhaven in-shore lifeboat followed in "atrocious conditions".

Image caption The Newhaven lifeboat was partially damaged during the search for Dylan because of the strong waves

The search was called off late on Sunday, and resumed the next morning.

A lifeboat crew member suffered bruising and the boat was damaged by large waves during the operation.

Tideway School in Newhaven, where Dylan was recently a pupil, said its thoughts were with his family and friends.

In a statement on its website, head teacher Robert Corbett said: "It is very important that we leave the search to the professional services and do not try to take on this hazardous task.

"The sea has already shown its power and danger and we do not wish any others to be in peril."

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