A man has died after a car plunged into the River Wear in Sunderland today.
A major search operation was launched this morning involving police divers after reports a car had gone into the water, close to the Hylton viaduct.
The alarm was raised shortly before 8.30am and police, Coastguard, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and the RNLI were all involved in the operation, searching the river from North Hylton.
A Northumbria Police spokesman confirmed that the man's family are being supported by officers.
“A 29-year-old man has died following a report earlier this morning (May 31) that a car had gone into the river near the Hylton Bridge, in Sunderland," he said.
"The next of kin are being informed and are being supported by officers at this difficult time.
"A report will now be prepared for the coroner.”
It was initially unclear whether anyone had been in the vehicle but the police marine unit was called to the scene and found the man, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
Paul Nicholson, from Sunderland RNLI, said the car had not been immediately obvious when the lifeboat arrived at the scene. The lifeboat crew had assisted marine unit officers with recovering the man's body
"The inshore lifeboat was launched at the request of police following reports of a potential vehicle being in the river," he said.
"When our volunteers arrived at the scene, there was nothing visible on the surface, so they carried out a search of the area.
"Police divers arrived and they very soon managed to locate the vehicle. Our volunteers worked with the police drivers to recover the casualty from the vehicle.
"The inshore lifeboat then transported the casualty back to Sunderland Marina and that was the end of our involvement."
The vehicle has been recovered from the river.
Police have now launched an appeal for information on the circumstances surrounding the man's death.
Anyone with information about how the car came to be in the water should contact police on 101, quoting reference 209 310518.