Update: Two bodies recovered by divers in Norfolk Broads tragedy

Police searching for two people on the Norfolk Broads have confirmed that two bodies have been recovered.

Police divers discovered two bodies after a trip on the Norfolk Broads turned to tragedy.

Police first recovered the body of the mother of a 13-year-old girl who had been discovered alone on a boat.

The body of the mother's partner was also discovered following a search by police.

Divers spent hours yesterday scouring the River Bure, between Wroxham Broad and Salhouse Broad, after the teenage girl was found alone in a boat tethered to a tree at Salhouse Little Broad.

The girl had been on a hire boat with her mother and her mother's partner and, based on what the youngster told officers, police launched a river search amid fears the couple had drowned.

After consultation with the Broads Authority, a one-mile stretch of the River Bure between Salhouse Broad and Wroxham Broad was sealed off early yesterday morning as Norfolk Fire and Rescue service's search and recovery team searched the water.

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They recovered the body of the girl's mother shortly after 2pm yesterday and found the body of the woman's partner shortly after 4.30pm.

Police – who last night had not yet confirmed the identity of the man and woman or where they were from – have said their deaths were being treated as unexplained though police are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.

The coroner has been informed and postmortem examinations are due to be carried out today to establish the cause of death. Formal identification of the bodies will take place in due course.

Detective Superintendent Pete Hornby of the joint Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team, overseeing the investigation, said: 'We are in the early stages of our investigation and working to establish the sequence of events which led to this tragic outcome.

'The motives surrounding the incident remain unclear, but at this time we are not looking for anyone else in connection with the deaths.'

Police said last night that the 13-year-old girl had been informed of what had happened and was being comforted by relatives.

The alarm had been raised just after 5pm on Saturday that a holiday hire boat had not been returned at the end of the week as arranged.

Police said the missing boat was quickly found near Salhouse Little Broad and the 13-year-old was aboard, alone but unharmed.

She was taken into protective police custody, where she spent Saturday night.

The boat was recovered and returned to the 'le boat' base at Ferry View Road, Horning, where it was yesterday being examined by police.

Earlier this year, a high-profile campaign was launched to encourage boaters to wear life-jackets, following five deaths over the past 12 months.

The initiative came after a Broads Authority survey at the end of last summer which found more than 80pc of boaters shun life-jackets.

The Broads hire boat licensing scheme conditions requires all people on board to be provided with life-jackets or buoyancy aids.

Hirers are also urged to wear their buoyancy aids, particularly when moving outside the cabins of the boat, going on deck or going ashore to moor up.

Norfolk county councillor and Broads Authority member Paul Rice is among those championing safety on the Norfolk Broads and developing a new volunteer force to strengthen rescue capability across the Broads by using the local knowledge of people such as sailing club members and boatyard staff to help the emergency services.

He said yesterday's tragic events showed just how vital this is.

About yesterday's tragedy, he said: 'It is a major tragedy that two lives have been lost in such a short period of time.

'I do not know the circumstances of what happened but my thoughts go out to their friends and family.'

He added: 'It bolsters the idea of getting more people involved in being able to assist people in difficulties on the Broads.'

Following yesterday's search the river between Salhouse Broad and Wroxham Broad was re-opened to boating traffic just before 6pm.

• emma.knights@archant.co.uk