Nicola Bulley's family may have to wait several agonizing days to find out whether the body found close to spot where she disappeared is her.
A body was discovered in the river a mile away from St Michael's on Wyre, the place where Nicola was last seen, at around 12pm yesterday (February 19).
Following the discovery, Paul Ansell, Nicola's partner, said there are “no words right now, just agony.”
READ MORE: Nicola Bulley: First words of passer-by who found body in search for missing mum
The body was spotted by two dog walkers, who promptly called the police, who arrived to a highly distressed man pointing towards an undergrowth along the river's bank.
He is thought to have shouted to police: “It was a body. It’s down there. It was a body of a woman. There is definitely a body down there.”
Lancashire Constabulary said it was unable to confirm whether the body was Nicola's and indicated the identifying may take several days.
A spokesperson said: "We are currently treating the death as unexplained. Nicola's family have been informed of developments and our thoughts are with them at this most difficult of times. We ask that their privacy is respected."
In situations such as these, family members are usually asked to identify the body.
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Retired Scotland Yard detective inspector, Hamish Brown, told the Sun: "The identification process isn't pleasant for anyone. I'm afraid it's just another line of unpleasant torture for the family, but something nevertheless that must be done."
Brown told GB News that it "depends on the condition of the body" whether it can be identified "visually".
After the discovery of the body, officers immediately sealed off a nearby road while a police helicopter hovered overhead.
There have been extensive searches of the River Wyre in Lancashire since Nicola went missing, with experts baffled by no trace of Nicola seemingly being found.
Once the sighting was reported, reinforcements arrived on the scene as specialist divers entered the water and forensics tents were erected on by the riverbank.
Wyre Council leader Michael Vincent told The Sun: “This is absolutely tragic. Nicola’s family and friends have been through hell.
“For three weeks we have all hoped for the best. To hear that a body has been found is truly heartbreaking. I can’t imagine what Nicola’s family and friends must be going through."
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