Page last updated at 13:53 GMT, Thursday, 8 May 2008 14:53 UK

Search for missing woman stopped

A search operation sparked by a report of an elderly woman wandering through County Durham woodland in only her underwear has been stood down.

The alarm was raised early on Thursday by a member of the public who spotted the woman in Newton Aycliffe.

She disappeared into mist before the man could reach her.

Police officers, mountain rescuers, and the Durham force helicopter were stood down after nine hours, as no further sightings were made.

The search, which also involved sniffer dogs, focused on woods and streets close to Woodham golf course.

Sleepwalking theory

The sighting was reported at 0300 BST in the Kimblesworth Walk area.

Insp Simon Orton said no further reports of a missing woman had been received by officers.

He said: "We have again spoken to the man who alerted us in the early hours and he is adamant of what he saw.

"House to house inquires in the area where she was seen have revealed nothing and no-one has raised any concerns about elderly neighbours.

"It could be that this lady was sleepwalking and has no idea she was on the streets or that she has realised and is too embarrassed to come forward."

The search operation will resume if any further sightings are reported.

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