A 10-year-old boy was last night in a critical condition in hospital after he was pulled from a river in Co Down.
The youngster, named locally as Daniel Andre, was swimming with friends at a stretch of the River Bann at Leitrim Road in Hilltown when he got into difficulties.
He is believed to have been under the water for up to 20 minutes before being pulled free by Fire and Rescue Service officers.
He was rushed to Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry where medical staff battled to stabilise him.
He was then transferred last night to the Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.
One local woman, who did not wish to be identified, said: “There were a few people at the scene and they heard the screaming. They tried to find him but it was so black they couldn’t see what was happening.”
Another woman said: “People are very shocked in the village.”
Local councillor Ciaran Mussen, who lives in the village, paid tribute to the swift response of rescue crews.
“They have done something quite extraordinary,” he said.
“There were police and ambulances. It was quite an operation to get him out and resuscitated.”
The stretch of water where the boy got into trouble is known locally as the Mill Pool and is a popular summertime bathing spot for young people in the area.
“Generations of local people would all have gone there to swim in the summertime,” said Mr Mussen.
“There are many parts of the Bann that children and young people would congregate to swim during the summer, it’s a part of the tradition round here.
“It would be a fairly treacherous pool for young children to be there unaccompanied. It would have no supervision or no safety equipment. It can be quite treacherous and there are very deep holes in it.
“Unfortunately, he got into trouble and the rest of the children there couldn’t help him, even though they tried their best.”
Mr Mussen said that people were shocked, but were hoping that the young boy would pull through.
“Everybody is keeping their fingers crossed and are very worried and hoping everything will be okay,” he said. “The family is well-known, the lad goes to the local school and plays football.”