The father of a British schoolboy who disappeared on a holiday island off the south of France during a severe storm has admitted hopes of finding him alive are fading. Pierre Barnes, aged 12, vanished on Saturday after going for a bike ride on the island of Porquerolles, near Toulon on the Mediterranean coast.
His father Stephen, from Grantham, Lincolnshire, said that when the youngster embarked on the trip the weather was calm and sunny and there was no hint of the oncoming storm.
Describing Pierre as a "lovable and slightly eccentric little chap. He told the Daily Telegraph newspaper:
Mr Barnes and his French wife, Florence, had arrived on the picturesque island just hours earlier with Pierre and their other children, Zoe, aged 17, Desmond, aged 15, and Clemence, who is 13, for a cycling holiday during the half-term break.
More than 150 local volunteers joined the search to find Pierre and the day after he disappeared rescuers found one of his shoes on a coastal path, alongside his bike with its chain off.
Mr Barnes admitted that, despite the "tremendous response" from the local community and the search teams, his hopes for his son were ebbing away. The property company director said:
A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said: "We can confirm that a British national has been reported missing in France. "We are in touch with the French authorities and we are providing consular assistance."