Police in Germany fear they may have their own Jack the Ripper-style murderer on the loose after body parts belonging to a sex worker have been found almost every day for the past week.

Detectives in Hamburg said on Thursday (10 August) they had discovered the seventh piece of a 48-year-old woman identified in local media as "Lucy" from Equatorial Guinea.

She was reported missing on 1 August and was believed to be have been working as a legal sex worker.

Investigators believe the culprit murdered the woman, hacked her to pieces and distributed body parts in waterways around the city harbour.

The first body parts – the abdomen and an upper leg – were discovered on the banks of the River Elbe in the Rissen district last Friday by a walker, the Hamburger MorgenPost reported.

More parts were found over the following six days, including a lower leg spotted floating in the water by a passer-by on Wednesday.

The last recovered piece was found in the Goldbekkanal canal.

Some parts – all believed to belong to Lucy – were recovered 20km apart from each other, a distance thought to be too far to be considered the result of water currents.

Detectives say they are still searching for the suspect and have no strong leads.

Police divers were spotted searching for the remainder of the corpse in the city's canals this week, believing more body parts will turn up over the coming days.

The victim had reportedly lived in Spain before coming to Hamburg to work as a sex worker in the St Georg neighbourhood.

Her family, who still live in Spain, are being interviewed by investigators.