The devastated friends of an international student swept into the ocean at a beach in Newcastle have given up hope the 23-year-old will be found alive.
The air and water search for the Pakistani national was suspended for the third day in a row on Tuesday evening with no sign of the missing man.
Mohsin Awan and fellow Pakistani student Mohsin Javed, also 23, were on a rock face near Nobbys Beach on Sunday evening when they were hit by a swell and dragged into the water.
Mr Javed managed to hold onto the rocks as local bystanders jumped in to help and pull him back to safety.
Mr Awan tried "very hard" to swim back but couldn't make it, the pair's housemate, Usman Ghani, told AAP on Tuesday.
Mr Ghani, who's spent the last few days consoling Mr Javed, said his friend was struggling to come to terms with the tragedy.
"He's very sad and crying all the time. They were childhood friends and he's in shock - we all are," he said.
Mr Awan, from Lahore in Pakistan's northeast, was studying business administration at the University of Newcastle after arriving in Australia last October.
His family are aware he's missing.
"They're in big trauma and distress .. more than us. They're so sad to be so far away," Mr Ghani said.
Police have told the local Pakistani community in Newcastle there's a slim chance Mr Awan has survived.
"Mohsin was a very happy and friendly person, always adventurous. It really is sad that he's gone," Mr Ghani said.
Reports the pair may have been filming videos or taking selfies were untrue, he added, but Mr Javed did have GoPro camera with him.
A search involving water police, a rescue helicopter and surf lifesavers spent Monday scouring the area off Nobbys Beach and set out again on Tuesday just after 7am.
It's expected the search will switch to a recovery operation on Wednesday.