Hope fades for teen missing at remote beach
EMOTIONAL scenes have played out on Clarence Valley's remote Pebbly Beach as family and friends vow to maintain a beach-side vigil until missing teenager Ali Mosawi is found.
The 17-year-old was swimming with four other people at the beach in Yuraygir National Park on Saturday afternoon, when they got into trouble in dangerous conditions. Three people made their way back to shore and assisted a fourth boy, but Ali hasn't been seen since. Police are now calling the search a recovery operation.
Yesterday morning, family members and friends held a prayer service at the site as emergency services got to work for a third day.
"It was very moving," Inspector Jo Reid said.
"It just brings home the deep religious faith and beliefs they have, and that underpins their reason for wanting to stay, and you can certainly understand that.
"They've indicated they'll stay as long as they need to so they bring him home."
Hampered by large swell, the search - which involved local police, Surf Live Saving NSW volunteers, Wooli Marine Rescue and a Department of Fisheries helicopter - was called off about 2pm on Monday.
Insp Reid confirmed the operation was now moving into the recovery phase.
"We've done as much as we could for the day, and we'll head back out tomorrow (Tuesday) with water police and a land-based beach patrol in the hope he'll turn up," she told The Daily Examiner.
"The search will be scaled right back (today) and if it's not concluded we will reassess after that."
It is believed Ali was not a strong swimmer.
"They went out in a group which is one of the safety principles you want people to adhere to, but the surf is unforgivable and you've only got to get caught in a rip and one moment of panic can cost you," Insp Reid said.
"Especially in remote areas like that where help is far away."
Tributes have poured in for the teen, who was in Year 11 at Miller Technology High School in Western Sydney.
Sheltie Bryant told The Daily Telegraph that Ali was "a great friend".
"Whenever someone needed a friend to talk to he was always there and would put a smile on their faces and have their backs," she said.
"We were close, he was a hard worker at school and he loved auto class, he was always the top of auto.
"He would stand up for his boys at school ... I'm going to miss him so much."
She said he also enjoyed going fishing and was doing what he loved before he got swept away.
He had only turned 17 less than a month ago.
Ali's Facebook page shows that he visited Iraq earlier this year.
"He came back talking all about it and showing me photos and all that," Sheltie said.
A post on Facebook page "Shias in Australia" yesterday asked everyone to pray for "lost soul" Ali as the search operation continues.