A major search is being carried out after an eight-year-old boy fell into a river while playing with friends.

The boy is believed to have fallen into the River Wear, near Willington, in County Durham, at around 7pm on Friday.

Police, the fire service and search and rescue teams scoured the area after the alarm was raised, with the RAF and mountain rescue team expected to continue the search during the night.

Janice Larnach, the owner of the Brown Trout pub, near to where the boy is believed to have fallen in the river, said the area had experienced heavy rainfall during the last week and the River Wear was flooded.

She said the boy's brother had told search teams he saw his sibling fall and grab on to a tree branch, which then snapped.

Mrs Larnach said: "His brother said he saw him fall in, hang on to a branch and that snapped but he hasn't been found up to now.

"It happened just as we were opening and we've had a full-scale search in the area."

She said she believed the boy's bicycle had been discovered on the river bank.

Mrs Larnach added: "We've had heavy rain for a week. It hasn't rained today but the river's really in flood."