POLICE have dismissed claims an internet craze could be behind the disappearance of two schoolgirls.

Concerns had been raised that the girls, aged 14 and 15, who went missing for three days at the weekend might have been playing the Game of 72.

In the game, teenagers dare each other to vanish for 72 hours.

However, yesterday police dismissed national newspaper reports the girls had been involved.

A spokesman said: “There is nothing to suggest any links or connections to this game.

“The reasons for this disappearance are nothing to do with this game as far as we are aware.”

A massive police hunt was launched after the girls, who are not related, went missing from Maldon over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Kieran Hartley-Anderson, 22, of Shoebury, was arrested after he was found with them in Westcliff on Monday. National newspapers claimed the pair may have been taking part in the dangerous internet craze.

Hartley-Anderson has been released on police bail until Saturday, July 11.

Despite the disappearances not being linked to the game, parents and teachers are worried about others getting involved in internet crazes.