Friends pay tribute to teen feared drowned

UPDATE: Police have resumed a search for a teenage boy missing in surf north of Coffs Harbour.

It resumed this morning and will involve local police assisted by officers from Marine Area Command, including police divers, as well as volunteers from Surf Live Saving NSW, Westpac Lifesaver Helicopter and other agencies.

INITIAL REPORT: A major search operation continues for a Western Sydney teenager who is feared drowned after going swimming at an isolated mid-north coast beach with friends.

Ali Mosawi, 17, became caught in a rip at Pebbly Beach in the Yuraygir National Park, 55km north of Coffs Harbour, just before 4pm on Saturday.

Three of the group were able to return to shore and alert authorities, but as they looked back into the water there was no sign of missing Ali, who is not a strong swimmer.

The search was suspended last night due to low light, but resumed this morning involving Pol. Air, local police, volunteers from Surf Life Saving NSW and the Westpac Lifesaver Helicopter.

Tributes have poured in for the 17-year-old 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," Shellie said.

A post on Facebook page "Shias in Australia" today asked everyone to pray for "lost soul" Ali as the search operation continues.