1. ITV Report

Sisters found tied together in New York river identified

Rotana Farea, 22, (left) and Tala Farea, 16, were found tied together. Credit: NYPD via AP

Two sisters found bound together with tape in the Hudson River in New York have been identified.

Tala and Rotana Farea were found facing each other, with tape around their waists and ankles, and fully clothed when they washed up on the river's bank in Manhattan's Riverside Park on October 24, but were not identified until Wednesday.

Authorities believe the pair were alive when they entered the water.

One theory had been that the sisters had jumped from the George Washington Bridge, but that was ruled out after the medical examiners' office said there were no obvious signs of trauma on the bodies.

It continued that it is not clear how Tala, 16, and Rotana, 22, died, but said there was no information to suggest foul play.

The pair, who moved to the US state of Virginia from Saudi Arabia in 2015, had been missing since August.

On Tuesday, the day before the bodies were discovered, the sisters' mother told police she received a call from an official at the Saudi Arabian Embassy, ordering the family to leave the US because her daughters had applied for political asylum.

Saudi Arabia’s Consulate General in New York said in a statement that it had “appointed an attorney to follow the case closely".

It added that embassy officials in Washington had contacted the family and “extended its support and aid in this trying time", and that the sisters were students “accompanying their brother in Washington".

Rotana Farea was enrolled at George Mason University in Fairfax, but left in the spring.

A spokesperson for the institute called the news of her death “tragic", and said the university was cooperating with police.

Police said the sisters - who had a history of running away from home - left their family home in Fairfax and were placed in a shelter after an earlier disappearance, in December 2017.