A couple whose bodies were found in a swollen river in North Wales may have drowned trying to rescue a pet dog, police have said.

A member of the public spotted a woman's body on a sandbank in the River Clywedog, near Wrexham, shortly after 5pm on Wednesday. It is understood the woman was a 27-year-old from the local area. As a result of police searches, the body of a man was found in the river in the early hours of Thursday.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Pierce told reporters the couple were seen earlier walking with five dogs. Mr Pierce said: "At this time identifications have yet to be confirmed. We believe them to be a couple aged in their mid 20s and from the Wrexham area."

He added: "The two deaths are unexplained but the likely scenario is at the moment that there was unfortunately a tragic accident. We believe the couple were here with dogs and at the time the river was swollen. The river level was at a higher level than it is at the moment. It's speculation to say whether or not the dogs have gone into the river and one or both of the couple have gone in to save the dogs. We haven't got a witness to confirm that."

A post-mortem examination is expected to take place on Friday morning to establish the cause of death, he said, adding that the local coroner had been informed.

Witness Michael Morgan, who works at a car wash close to the entrance to Erddig Country Park, said he was alerted by a whippet which came into the business.

He said: "I was on my knees buffing a car and I turned round and there was a dog licking my ear. I thought it was a stray at first and was going to tie it up. But this dog was too good for a stray, he was in beautiful condition.

"So I said to my colleague, Gav, that I would take it up to the field and have a look in case the owner has had a fall or got their car stuck in mud or whatever."

Mr Morgan said it was a "terrible shock". He said he recognised the victim as a regular dog walker in the area. He said he believes the whippet, which had a collar but no name, was "definitely" trying to raise the alarm. "If it wasn't for the whippet, we wouldn't have known the dogs were there," he added.

Other locals described the river's levels in recent days as "horrific", saying it had risen 4ft (1.2m) since the heavy rain began.