08/07/2013 10:33 BST

Barry Island Rescue Crews Search For Missing Teen 'Along Coastline'

Promenade and beach, Whitemore bay, Barry Island, vale of Glamorgan, S. Wales
Promenade and beach, Whitemore bay, Barry Island, vale of Glamorgan, S. Wales

Major efforts to find a missing 14-year-old girl last seen in "difficulty" in the sea are focusing on the shoreline at low tide.

Rescue crews were scrambled at 3.45pm on Sunday after a report of concern for the schoolgirl, who was at Whitmore Bay, Barry Island, South Wales.

It remains unclear whether the unnamed teenager is believed to have been washed out to sea or went missing after returning to dry land.

Coastguard searches are leading the operation but South Wales Police are continuing house-to-house inquiries in the area.

Special search officers liaised with the coastguard on Monday morning to decide where to direct their efforts, a police spokeswoman said.

Both agencies remained in consultation for several hours before major search efforts were resumed.

A search helicopter, rescue vessels and shoreline foot patrols were all focusing on areas in both directions along the coast.

Doubt as to where exactly the missing teenager may be was raised by the coastguard on Sunday.

The girl, who is on holiday in the area with her family, was in the water with friends when she got into trouble around an hour before the alarm was raised, police said.

She is 5ft 7in, of average build and has long black hair. She was last seen wearing a multi-coloured dress.

Steve Jones, rescue manager at Swansea Coastguard, said teams were "dumbfounded" the initial report about the girl took up to an hour before being made.

Searching the sea around the area she went missing was made a priority but parallel police inquiries were made on land.

He said that police were checking the address where she was staying and speaking to friends of the girl who were in the water with her.

But he concluded with the hope that she would be found on dry land despite search efforts being concentrated on the sea.

Sun-seekers and families on holiday in the area continued to arrive at the busy seaside resort in their hundreds on Monday.

Beach-side cafes, restaurants and ice cream parlours were doing good business but many of those at the resort expressed shock at Sunday's events.

"It must be so terrible for the family at this moment. My heart goes out to them," said Sue Voss, of Pencoedtre, Barry.

She said local people were aware of the potential dangers of the sea and knew that tides could be treacherous.

"The tides are dangerous here - you can get pulled out to sea. That is why you should always stay between the red and yellow flags," she said.

"If you are from somewhere inland it is easy to think that there is no danger. On a sunny day it all looks so inviting."

She said a friend lost her dog several years ago when it went into the sea at nearby Knap beach and was washed away by currents.

She said of the missing schoolgirl: "We are all hoping that she is found safe. So terrible for the family."

Visitor Susan Rogers, 65, from Newport, said she had been taking her children and now grandchildren to Whitmore Bay for years.

"It is true that you have got to be careful of the tides here. But it is a bit like being with children next to a main road.

"You have got to keep your eye on children and make sure they are out of danger. It's different with teenagers, though."

She added: "Something like this is tragic. As a family you can never get over it and a holiday should be a happy time. You can only hope that there will be some good news."