Northumbria Police said that the families of two girls who died in the River Wear are "completely distraught at what has happened" and added that officers are doing everything possible to support them.
We are aware there has been some speculation about what has happened but I'd like to emphasise that we are speaking with witnesses to establish exactly what has happened and it's still too early to determine the circumstances.
At this stage we believe a group of friends had been at the riverside and two went into the water and the others tried to help, along with members of the public.
This is an absolute tragedy and our deepest sympathies are with the families of the two girls at what must be a devastating time for them.
More top news
The so-called mini-Beast from the East has swept in, bringing with it snow, ice and strong winds.
London arts and textiles teacher Andria Zafirakou beat 30,000 others from 170 countries to be crowned winner at the ceremony in Dubai.
The family of a mother and daughter who died in a shooting in St Leonards, Sussex, have described them as "beautiful people".