A 14-year-old boy went missing Monday night and is believed to have drowned while swimming in the River Thames, according to London police, as thousands flocked to bodies of water to escape Britain’s scorching heat wave.
Late Monday afternoon, London’s Metropolitan Police were alarmed by reports that a child had entered the river in Richmond, south-west London. Members of all three emergency services and some civilians conducted an extensive search, but it was halted because they could not find him.
“Despite the best efforts of all concerned, we are now sadly forced to conclude that this young boy has passed away,” Chief Inspector Richard Smith, of the South West Command Unit of the Metropolitan Police, said in a statement. “Efforts to restore his body will continue until tonight.”
In recent days, authorities have warned of the dangers of swimming in the Thames and other open waters, as people rushed to increasingly popular “wild swimming” spots.
“I know that on days like today, when temperatures are reaching record highs, it can seem appealing to jump into rivers, reservoirs, lakes or other open waters and cool off,” Chief Inspector Smith said. “Please do not.” The boy’s presumed death, he said, showed “the dire consequences of what happens when things go wrong”.