A boy who was celebrating his eighth birthday drowned despite an underwater rescue attempt in the River Wharfe.

People attempted in vain to save Aaron Page when he went into water which is about 25ft deep near a footbridge at Bolton Abbey, Skipton.

His 13-year-old brother, who was part of a family gathering of 25, raised the alarm.

A police spokesman said: “People entered the water to try to help but were unable to due to the depth of the water and the strong undercurrents. He could not be resuscitated.”

Medical staff were on standby and the Yorkshire Air Ambulance joined a search along the riverbank.

An underwater search team from the Upper Wharfe Fell Rescue Association (UWFRA) were joined by police divers, and after a search lasting more than three hours, Aaron’s lifeless body was discovered in the water.

The accident happened at about 3pm yesterday. His body discovered at 6.25pm downstream from the footbridge and stepping stones at Bolton Abbey.

Harry Long, a controller for the UWFRA, said 28 members of the association’s team had been involved in the rescue bid. West Yorkshire Police provided an underwater search unit in a bid to save Aaron, from Pontefract, West Yorkshire.

Fire and ambulance crews were also sent to the beauty spot.

Mr Long said Saturday’s tragedy had been the latest in a series of incidents along the stretch of the River Wharfe near Bolton Abbey and at The Strid, a fast-flowing and rocky stretch of the river.

The Duke of Devonshire, who owns the 30,000-acre estate was previously involved in discussions about safety on the river after Susan Hastings and her daughter Evie were swept away in a torrent in 2007.

Mrs Hastings’ husband Ashley called for more safety equipment and warning signs to alert people of the power of the river following the rescue.

At the time, Ben Hayes, a spokesman for the estate said: “We want to get out the wider message for people to take care in the countryside generally. Nature constantly reminds us of its power, and people should be aware of what it can do.”