An elderly woman and her dogs have died after the car they were in slipped from a ferry into the River Fal in Cornwall.

The woman, who was thought to be 76, was crossing the river on the Philleigh side of the King Harry Ferry near Truro when the car fell from the slipway into the water.

Emergency services were contacted at around 4pm yesterday and the woman's body was recovered around two hours later. She was pronounced dead the scene.

Two dogs that were in the car when it went into the river were also found dead.

A man believed to be the woman's husband, who had been driving the car, had gotten out to take pictures, witnesses said. He was unharmed.

Matt Vernon, 36, dove into the water after the car but was not able to save her: "At one point I got down to one side and noticed the window was wide open so the car was completely flooded and I couldn't get in it because of the depth and the cold."

Vernon said he tried to get the car door open or to smash a window, but he was not able to.

A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: "Divers went on scene to help locate the vehicle underwater and while search and rescue teams continued a search of the water and shore line, fire and rescue units winched the vehicle out of the water.

"The lady occupant of the vehicle was recovered from within the car at 6pm and was transferred to hospital by helicopter."

Witnesses said the car hit another vehicle before it rolled down the slipway. Some have suggested the handbrake had not been properly applied.

Inspector Richard Hocking, from Devon and Cornwall Police, said they are looking at the vehicle to check there are no faults with the car to get a better understanding of what happened "before we jump to any conclusion".

"Our thoughts are very much with the family at the moment," he added.

A statement from the King Harry Ferry said it is running boats across the river again: "Our thoughts are with the friends and family of everyone involved in yesterday's tragedy. The ferry was not involved in the incident and our normal service has resumed."