Major hunt sparked for missing girl, four, at beach

Summer in the sunshine at the West Wittering Beach Estate in West Sussex              Picture: Derek Martin
Summer in the sunshine at the West Wittering Beach Estate in West Sussex Picture: Derek Martin
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A MAJOR search operation was launched today to find a four-year-old girl who disappeared while paddling in the sea.

The youngster had been playing in the shallows of West Wittering beach, south of Chichester, when she disappeared.

About 15 police officers were scrambled to the popular beauty spot to join the search effort alongside life guards and other volunteers.

Sussex Police said it was called at 1.40pm with a spokesman adding: ‘A four-year-old girl was reported missing.

‘She was paddling in the sea in the shallow water. She went missing for 30 to 40 minutes.’

The youngster was found safe a well shortly before 2.20pm, Sussex Police confirmed.

Officers are still at the scene speaking to her parents.

The beach has previously been the site of tragedy.

In 2012, a 25-year-old man drowned after going to the aid of two children in the sea.

The youngsters had been playing in a rubber ring close to the shoreline when they were pulled out to sea.

The man went in to try and drag them back but drowned.