Police have this morning warned it is unlikely that they will find Lucas Dobson alive after he slipped into the River Stour over the weekend.
The boy, six, was on a fishing trip with relatives in Sandwich, Kent, when he slipped into the water on Saturday afternoon.
Searches continued throughout yesterday, ending at 10am and resuming again this morning at first light.
Superintendent Amanda Tillotson from Kent Police said more than 100 members of the emergency services and some 200 volunteers have been taking part in what she said is a ‘massive operation’.
She said: ‘I’ve just come from speaking to the family myself, and they wish to pass on their absolute gratitude for everybody, and they’re overwhelmed at the amount of people that have come out to help and search for Lucas.’
Asked how likely a positive outcome is, she said: ‘Obviously as time has gone on now I think it is unlikely, unfortunately.
‘But, we will continue to search and obviously I would like to have a positive outcome, I would like to find Lucas, we are getting increasingly concerned with the amount of time that is going on now.
‘But it is really important that we continue to search for Lucas and continue to do that for the family, and my heart goes out to them, it really does.’
She said the search team was working hard ‘to bring a quick resolution and find Lucas as quickly as we can for the family’, adding: ‘This is an awful, tragic incident.’
Ms Tillotson said there are dive units that have searched the river area, along with specialists from other agencies, and that the focus of efforts is centred near to where the incident happened.
Emergency services were called to Richborough Road at about 1.20pm on Saturday, KFRS said.
Lucas’s aunt Maciee Stanford, 18, said the boy’s father jumped into the water after he fell between a jetty and a boat, but ‘the current was too strong, he had already gone’.
She said: ‘He was with his dad and his dad’s friends along with other children.
‘The incident happened because our Lucas was on the jetty and tried to step from there on to the boat, but he fell in between the jetty and the boat.
‘As soon as he fell the three adults jumped in after (him) but the current was too strong, he had already gone in the short amount of time, he could not be found.
‘They fish and do this regularly as it is behind one of the men’s houses, all the children play together here.’
A Facebook page called Search For Lucas said he was wearing a black and red striped T-shirt with white shorts.
Volunteers were warned about their own safety and told by police to stay away from the water’s edge, work in groups, and make sure they had phones if they continue searching through the night.