Two young sisters whose bodies were found on the banks of the Hudson River bound together with tape are believed to have jumped in rather than return to Saudi Arabia.

Sixteen-year-old Tala Farea and Rotana Farea, 23, likely "entered the water alive" in a suspected suicide pact, according to New York City police department's chief of detectives Dermot Shea.

The pair, whose bodies were discovered by a passerby on 24 October, had been living in Virginia.

Mr Shea told a news conference: "At this point in time we have no credible information that any crime took place in New York City, but it is under investigation."

Image: An earlier sketch of the sisters released by police after their bodies were discovered

He said sources in Virginia had told investigators that the women "would rather inflict harm on themselves" than return to Saudi Arabia.

Witness testimonies, video evidence and the eldest sister's credit card records for food, hotel and travel were used to conclude there was likely no foul play involved.

The sisters had last been seen by their family in Virginia on 30 November 2017.

They subsequently stayed at a shelter for victims of domestic violence until the end of August and appeared to have arrived in New York City on 1 September, were they stayed at a number of "high-end hotels", according to Mr Shea.

A witness told detectives he had seen two women kneeling about 30ft apart near the Hudson River praying loudly for about 15 minutes on the morning of 24 October.

Police said the sisters, who had lived in the United States for up to three years, were thought to have been subjected to physical abuse and may have applied for asylum in the US.

More from New York

A cause of death in the case has not yet been determined.

:: Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email [email protected] in the UK. In the US, call the Samaritans branch in your area or 1 (800) 273-TALK.

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