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Air searches conducted along the coast in hunt for missing Sophie

PUBLISHED: 17:39 01 January 2018 | UPDATED: 19:00 01 January 2018

The beach at California in north Norfolk. Picture: Ian Burt

The beach at California in north Norfolk. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2017

Volunteers are set to carry out door-to-door inquiries as the desperate search for missing student Sophie Smith enters its second week.

Further searches for missing 21-year-old Sophie Smith are set to be carried out today. Photo: Norfolk Police Further searches for missing 21-year-old Sophie Smith are set to be carried out today. Photo: Norfolk Police

Air patrols have also been carried out along the coast following the 21-year-old’s disappearance from her home in Avondale Road, Gorleston in the early hours of Boxing Day.

Additional searches organised by the Find Sophie Smith Facebook group – which now has more than 29,000 members – were conducted in Southwold, north Norfolk, Sea Palling and along the River Yare in the Burgh Castle and Belton areas on Monday,

A further search was planned in Caister on Monday evening as people continue the hunt to trace the UEA student.

Ms Smith disappeared from her home at 3am on December 26, without a mobile phone and wearing only a vest and shorts. Subsequent CCTV footage captured her a short time later heading towards the seafront, but since then there have been no other confirmed sightings.

Police said it was likely that Sophie had gone into the sea at Gorleston, and in the past week extensive searches have been carried out along the Norfolk and Suffolk coast.

On Sunday, aircraft manned by volunteers from Sky Watch Civil Air Patrol began flying search patrols along the coast between Lowestoft and Winterton following a request from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

A spokesman said the air patrols “will be continuing for the next fortnight”.

The Caister Inshore Lifeboat also searched for Sophie between Great Yarmouth and Caister on Sunday.

With the emergency services – including coastguard teams from Lowestoft and Southwold, Gorleston and Winterton, police units, a National Police Air Service helicopter, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, Norfolk Lowland Search and Rescue and Suffolk Lowland Search and Rescue – being joined by hundreds of people in scouring the coastline, the community efforts have been hailed as heartening by Great Yarmouth MP, Brandon Lewis.

Ms Smith is described as being white, about 5ft 8in tall, of a slim build with shoulder length blonde hair. Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Sophie Smith should call Norfolk Police on 101.

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