A mother-of-one suffered a horrific death when molten caramel spilled into a huge vat she was cleaning at a confectionery factory in Russia. Natalia Nemets, 36, is believed to have been "boiled alive" in the accident at Stary Oskol in the north of the country.

Colleagues could not find her in the factory, and after a search they were shocked to discover her legs poking out of the caramel in the large vat. Factory workers could do nothing to save the mother, who was married with a 10-year-old son called Ivan.

One worker told local newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda: "She was cleaning the mixer when the caramel suddenly began to flow into the bowl. She got boiled alive, this is true.

"She did not cry, no other noise was heard. Nobody could explain how it could happen. Natalia did not have a single chance to survive.

"The caramel was removed from the giant bowl and only then was her body was taken out. Besides the fact that it was boiling caramel, in the bowl there are moving blades that constantly mix the caramel."

The local labour commission has launched a probe into the accident, with results expected in 15 days.

The investigation will look at two initial theories at first, reported Komsomolskaya Pravda. It will study whether Natalia fainted and fell into the vat because of the high temperature in the room she was working in, and another theory that she stumbled and fell into the tank.

Management at Slavyanka confectionery plant at first sought to cover-up the accident, which happened on 20 October, according to local reports. The firm had threatened workers with the sack if they revealed details of the tragedy.

However, details of the catastrophe began to leak out on social media, and the probe into the accident was later confirmed by the labour commission. Locals say it is the third death at the plant in this "unlucky" year. The details of the two other alleged cases have not been disclosed.