Search held in Southwold for missing Gorleston teenager Sophie Smith

Further searches for missing 21-year-old Sophie Smith have been carried out today. Photo: NORFOLK PO

Further searches for missing 21-year-old Sophie Smith have been carried out today. Photo: NORFOLK POLICE - Credit: Archant

Volunteers have searched around Southwold as the operation to find missing Gorleston student Sophie Smith has taken to the skies.

Air patrols have been carried out along the coast, while volunteers continue to search for 21-year-old Ms Smith as it nears a week since she disappeared from her home in Avondale Road, Gorleston.

With volunteers due to carry out door-to-door enquiries in Gorleston, additional searches organised by the Find Sophie Smith Facebook group – which now has more than 29,000 members – were conducted today in Southwold, north Norfolk, Sea Palling and along the River Yare in the Burgh Castle and Belton areas.

A further search is planned in Caister this evening as people continue the hunt to trace the University of East Anglia student, who has not been seen since Boxing Day.

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 Sophie had gone into the sea at Gorleston, and in the past week extensive searches have been carried out along the coastline.

Yesterday, 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”.

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

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 white, about 5ft 8ins tall, of a slim build with shoulder-length blonde hair.

Anyone with information about Sophie’s whereabouts should call Norfolk Police on 101.