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Alert 'either hoax or false report'

Coastguards have called off a search for two boys who were thought to have gone missing from a popular tourist beach.

A three-hour search for the youngsters, aged six and eight, who were reported missing after they were last seen on the seafront at Ryde on the Isle of Wight on Monday lunchtime, has now been "stood down", the Marine and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said.

The MCA tweeted at 4.25pm on Monday: "We've searched the sea and shore and we now don't think there are 2 kids in danger."

A Coastguard rescue team, helicopter and lifeboat were all involved in the search. Hampshire police said it was triggered when the force was alerted at 1.21pm by Solent Coastguard and said the boys were last seen near local landmark Appley Tower. People were asked to look out for the six-year-old boy, who had dark brown hair, pale skin, dark brown eyes and the eight-year-old had a mole on his left shoulder.

A MCA spokesman said: "It is an area we can search very well with clear visibility. We are confident there is no child out there in difficulty. Either it was a hoax or a false report. The parents left the scene after making the report. Did they find the children and then leave without telling anyone?"

A Hampshire and Isle of Wight police spokesman said the search was called off after the parents failed to keep in touch and officers were unable to find an address given by the family.

He said: "We were called at 1.21pm today by HM Coastguard to assist with the search for two boys reported missing on the sea front at Ryde on the Isle of Wight.

"A man and woman said they had last seen the two boys at around 12pm today going into the water between the Ryde Inshore Rescue building and Appley Tower. A description of the two boys was issued by HM Coastguard: a six-year-old boy with dark brown hair, pale skin, dark brown eyes, wearing pale blue trunks; and an eight-year-old boy with a mole on his left shoulder, wearing red trunks.

"Police deployed officers and staff to check nearby public places, tourist attractions and hotels. Details of the boys were circulated to public transport operators and Solent ferry companies. An address given for the family on the Isle of Wight was checked by officers. The details provided were found to be incorrect. House-to-house inquiries were also carried out. HM Coastguard stood down its search of the sea and shore at around 4.15pm today as there was no further information to suggest two children were in danger. Hampshire Constabulary would like to join coastguards in expressing thanks to everyone who helped with the search this afternoon.

"The force is keeping an open mind about the circumstances of this report. There is no evidence at this time to confirm a criminal offence has been committed deliberately. There could be a completely innocent explanation for what happened. Nothing can be ruled out as we assess all the information available. We are renewing an appeal for the parents or any relatives of these two boys to contact the police."

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