A woman found dead in the River Bure near Salhouse Broad on Sunday is thought to have been strangled, police confirmed last night.

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A post mortem examination carried out yesterday showed she had died before entering the water.

The death of her partner, whose body was also recovered by police divers, is not being treated as suspicious. He is believed to have drowned.

A police inquiry was launched late on Saturday after a holiday cruiser was found moored at a quiet spot with just a 13-year-old girl on board. Police confirmed the party, a mother and daughter and her partner, had come on holiday from Surrey.

Det Supt Jes Fry, heading the inquiry being carried out by the joint Norfolk and Suffolk major investigation team, said last night: “Our concerns remain for the welfare of the 13-year-old girl and her family.”

The girl, who was taken into protective custody on Saturday night, is now being supported by relatives.

Names have yet to be released, pending formal identification of the bodies of the man and woman, both thought to be in their 40s.

The family had hired the cruiser, Admiral, from the Le Boat yard in Ferry View Road, Horning,

A spokesman for the company confirmed they had holidayed with Le Boat on the Broads on several previous occasions.

He said: “Le Boat contacted the Broads Authority at 5pm on Saturday to alert them that a hire boat had not been returned to the site. A search was subsequently launched of the surrounding area.

“Le Boat continues to cooperate fully with the police in their inquiries. As the investigation is on-going, we cannot comment further on any details regarding this incident.

“Our thoughts are first and foremost with the family involved at this distressing time.”

Police officers in two cars remained at the Le Boat yard yesterday where the cruiser was still being examined.

Mystery surrounds how long the craft had been moored at the quiet inlet opposite Salhouse Little Broad where it was found.

Some river users suggested it may have been there for several days with the curtains strangely closed even during the heat of the day.

After the alarm was raised, the river was closed early on Sunday from Salhouse Broad towards Wroxham while police searched along a one-mile stretch.

The woman’s body was discovered at 2pm and her partner’s about two and a half hours later.

The river was re-opened to boating traffic on Sunday night but a seal remained yesterday afternoon where the boat was discovered.

The Home Office post-mortem examinations were carried out at the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston.

Barbara Greasley, chairman of Broads Tourism and a director of the Norfolk Broads Direct hire boat yard in Wroxham, said: “All of us on the Broads are in shock over the tragedy and our thoughts are with the family and friends of those concerned.

“As a tourism body we would like to emphasis how rare these events are and we are confident it will not have any effect on our tourism offer.”

She said the issue of safety was of paramount importance for businesses on the Broads and they continued to back the Broads Authority’s Wear It lifejacket campaign.

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