EYEWITNESSES have reacted after a body was found near Lakeside Shopping Centre following an extensive lake-search for a missing teenager.

Essex Police were called to Alexandra Lake, in Thurrock, shortly before 9pm, on Friday, July 31, following reports of a missing 15-year-old boy.

Reports had suggested the boy was last seen on the lake, on which there is currently an aqua park, at about 8.50pm.

Firefighters from Grays, Corringham, Orsett, and Leigh fire stations also attended the scene, alongside the service’s Urban Search and Rescue Team.

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The crews assisted police in searching the lake, positioned next to the Lakeside Shopping Centre, and shoppers and members of the public were advised to avoid the area. 

The operation was eventually left in the hands of Essex Police, who continued to look for the missing boy on Saturday.

Officers suspended their search, however, following the discovery of a body just after 12.40pm yesterday.

The family have been informed of the decision to suspend the search and a formal identification is still due to take place.

Eyewitness Macy Hall, who was staying in the Travelodge hotel which overlooks the lake, has described the shocking moment emergency swarmed the scene on Friday evening.

“My boyfriend and I were walking back to our hotel and we saw police running towards the boats which are outside the restaurants,” she said.

“Two policemen then jumped over the gate to get to where the boats are kept and then they made their way towards the aqua park in the middle of the lake.

“More police then started running towards us and then we heard a lot sirens coming our way and then we realised something very bad had happened.

“There was a group of kids on the aqua park and they sounded so upset and one starting crying to a policeman, begging him to find the boy, which was so upsetting to hear.”

Macy believes the search was halted overnight, but on Saturday morning, as her and her boyfriend made their way home, she saw crews continuing to look for the boy.

“It was upsetting to see, because we had thought they had found the boy, but we saw them going back into the water to look,” she added.

“As we left we saw what we believe to be the family of the boy, who looked extremely upset and a man who looked heartbroken and very shaken up.

“It was very, very scary to see, and it is upsetting that a young boy has died, and my thoughts go out to his family and friends.”

Kelly Hirst, from South Ockendon, visited Lakeside Shopping Centre the day after the boy was reported missing.

"I caught the moment they started to move the body into the ambulance," she said.

"It was quiet and sombre and a staff member from the shopping centre said the family were in hysterics."

Superintendent Craig Saunders has hailed the public for their cooperation and the emergency services for their efforts.

“I want to thank the local community for their patience, and all those involved who have helped with the investigation," he said.