Two female canoeists are believed to have drowned after getting into trouble on a river swelled by heavy rainfall.

Emergency services were called to the River Great Ouse in Kempston, Bedfordshire, on Sunday after they were contacted by a member of the public about two capsized canoes near a weir.

Tragically, the bodies of the women were recovered from the water shortly afterwards.

Shocked locals said the victims were understood to have been ‘well-prepared with life jackets and all the proper equipment’ but added the area could be treacherous at times.

The river was said to be 2ft higher than normal after heavy rainfall. Warning signs inform river users to be careful due to strong currents and deep water.

Emergency services rushed to the Weir embankment in Kempston, Bedfordshire, yesterday after reports of canoeists getting into difficulty in the River Great Ouse

Bedfordshire Police said they received reports of two capsized canoes from a member of the public

The area is popular for watersports. A business that hires out canoes and kayaks based nearby was closed yesterday.

Detective Inspector Matt Inwood, from Bedfordshire Police, said: ‘Our thoughts and condolences are with all those impacted during this difficult time.

‘We know that a situation like this can cause huge distress to the local community. I want to reassure people that we are engaging with our partners to ensure sensible safeguards are put into place for this part of the river.’

‘We are now assisting the coroner with their investigation into this tragic incident and will continue to do all we can to assist with their enquiries.’

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