THREE kayakers found dead in a river in Northumberland have been named by police as brothers Darren and Mark Thorpe and their cousin Gavin Bradley.

A major search and rescue operation was sparked after the three failed to return home on Sunday.

Darren Thorpe, 41, and Mark Thorpe, 39, were both from South Shields, South Tyneside, and Gavin Bradley, 36, was from Jarrow, South Tyneside.

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It is believed the three men had planned their trip and knew the river well, but had encountered challenging conditions after heavy rainfall.

Chief Supt Gordon Milward of Northumbria Police said: "The weather was unpredictable, in terms of some very heavy showers, and the river was higher than usual and fast-flowing. They would be challenging conditions for anybody."