POLICE believe the body of a woman found in a North Yorkshire canal is that of missing Ramsbottom pensioner Sandrea Pilkington.

An appeal was launched to discover Ms Pilkington’s whereabouts after the 70-year-old was reported missing at 11.45pm on Sunday.

The search has now been called off after a body was found 30 miles away in the Leeds and Liverpool Canal in Kildwick, near Skipton.

Formal identification is yet to take place, but Greater Manchester police confirmed they were no longer looking for Ms Pilkington.

North Yorkshire police said the woman’s body was found by a passer-by at 7.15am on Tuesday.

They believe she may have been spotted in Starkey Lane at 7.15am on Monday and spent some time in a local pub that afternoon, before being seen again near the canal at 11.30pm Detective Superintendent Dai Malyn, of North Yorkshire police, said: “We are working to establish the circumstances as to how this lady came to be in the canal.

“If you saw a woman matching her description, I ask you to contact the police straight away as you may have vital information that could help my enquiries.

“I am keen to hear from anyone who can help me understand how she came to be in Kildwick, in particular anyone who may have given her a lift such as taxi drivers in Skipton or Keighley.”

Part of the canal remains cordoned off while police continue to investigate.

DS Malyn said: “The woman has not been formally identified it is thought she may be from the Manchester area and we are working with colleagues in Greater Manchester police to ascertain her identify.

“We are not in a position to release any further details about her at this stage.”

Anyone who can assist with the enquiry should contact North Yorkshire police on 101, select option one and pass the information to the Force Control Room, quoting reference number 12140026881.