Hopes of finding an 11-year-old boy dragged out to sea are fading as the search for him continues on the NSW mid-north-coast.
The boy, who was visiting the region from the ACT, was walking with his 17-year-old brother in shallow water at an unpatrolled part of Lighthouse Beach at Port Macquarie when he was caught by a rip about 1.30pm on Wednesday.
Despite 24 hours of frantic searching by police and marine rescue groups in dangerous surf, the boy has not been seen.
Police are searching from Tacking Point lighthouse in the north to Camden Haven, about 20km south, and three nautical miles out to sea, a NSW Police spokeswoman told AAP on Thursday.
"The search is continuing and will remain in that area until nightfall," she said.
But Detective Inspector Guy Flaherty told the Seven Network the chances of finding the boy alive were dropping.
"At this stage we'll continue to run the search operation but as each hour goes past, it is moving towards a recovery operation," he said.
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The boy's mother could only watch as the boy, who was waist-deep in water, was sucked into the surf, while the older brother tried to rescue him, NSW Ambulance Superintendent David Horseman said on Thursday.
"He (the big brother) really did try and do a great job there, unfortunately, he wasn't able to do anything further," Supt Horseman told the Seven Network.
"He got exhausted from the experience as well and was treated by paramedics at the scene."
Ambulance crews, Marine Rescue vessels including a jetski and a Surf Life Saving drone scoured the area after he disappeared but were forced to abandon the search at nightfall on Wednesday.
The Westpac Rescue Helicopter and Police Marine Area Command resumed searching on Thursday morning with boats and jet skis.
Officers are also maintaining a presence on the beach and divers are entering the water, images posted on social media by NSW Police show.
Around 20 surf lifesavers and lifeguards are also involved in the search effort which involves three local surf life-saving clubs.