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    Belgian coast scoured for missing 14-year-old

    The teen reportedly left her home without a phone or a bank card. Credit: Childfocus.be

    Police are scouring areas along the Belgian coast in efforts to locate a missing 14-year-old who is thought to have run away from her home in Namur.

    Juliette Goormans was reported missing on 17 January, after she left her home in the morning to attend school in Vedrin, some 5 kilometres north of her home in the Walloon capital.

    Residents of Nieuwpoort, near the French border, reported seeing the teen in the coastal town, with local police also confirming she was seen eating at a local restaurant, HLN reports.

    Restaurant management said they recognised the girl from the photos distributed by police, saying she ate a plate of spaghetti, with residents also reporting seeing onboard the tram.

    Authorities believe Goormans ran away from home and took a bus heading to the coast instead of to her usual destination at school.

    Goormans is reported to have a slight mental handicap and to have left home without her phone or bank card, Le Soir reports.

    Efforts by the local police to locate the missing teen have so far been unsuccessful, with French police also alerted that Goormans appears to be on the move.

    “We are not sure that the missing girl is still in our zone,” Ine Deburchgraeve, a spokesperson with the West Coast police, said. “French colleagues have also been informed, in case she went beyond the national border.”

    Namur’s public prosecutor’s office is handling the investigation and have released posters and appealed to the public for information.

    Missing children’s centre Child Focus said that Goormans is of slight build, had brown eyes and dark brown hair and was last seen wearing pink jeans, a fuschia jacket, a black hoodie, white sneakers and a pink backpack of the brand Kipling.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times