Two women have died after being found in the sea off Aberdeen's esplanade after a high tide midnight swim went wrong.

Emergency services were rushed to the city beach area at 12.45am after being alerted by a member of the public to two people in the sea off Aberdeen Beach.

A rescue operation involving Aberdeen and Stonehaven coastguard teams and the RNLI lifeboat crew began and two females were pulled from the water

The women, aged 22 and 36 and foreign nationals who were living in the city were taken to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary where they died despite the efforts of staff to save them.

They were found in the water about 50 metres from the shore at the groynes that protect the beach from sand erosion.

Police Scotland said later that while investigations continue into how the women were in the water so late at night "there appears to be no suspicious circumstances".

Initial police inquiries from a witness suggest that the women went into the water for swimming but "sadly they underestimated the conditions".

Police said extensive efforts were being made to contact the next of kin and was expected to take some time while formal identification has not yet taken place.

HeraldScotland:

Chief Inspector Martin Mackay, the local area commander warned: "Our seas can be extremely unforgiving, the conditions can change rapidly and I can't stress enough the dangers of entering the water at any time, day or night, whether or not you are suitably prepared or experienced.

"Public safety is paramount and Police Scotland is committed to working with our partners to ensure people know of the dangers of entering any body of water whether swimming, sailing or walking near the water's edge."

He added: "Above all, my thoughts are with all of those who will be affected by this tragic incident."

Aberdeen lifeboat coxswain Davie Orr said conditions "weren't too bad at all" but there was an easterly breeze "that causes a bit of a swell coming into the shore".

He said that combined with the high tide "causes problems particularly here because when the water is not a ready escape to get out of the water".

Mr Orr added: "It is distressing for our crew. The RNLI ethos is to save life at sea and when we come back in to the harbour and that's not been achieved, the atmosphere in the lifeboat station just isn't the same."

One of the casualties was plucked from the water by Aberdeen inshore lifeboat and transferred to an all weather boat. The other was then found by the team and taken back to shore and both were transferred to waiting ambulances.

Coastguard area commander Ross Greenhill said the women were located in the "choppy" water using searchlights, then recovered by the lifeboat crew.

Earlier a police spokesman said: “At 12.45am Police Scotland along with partner agencies from Scottish Fire and Rescue, Scottish Ambulance Service, HM Coastguard and RNLI attended a report of two people in the sea off of Aberdeen Beach.

“Both people were recovered by the RNLI inshore lifeboat and taken to hospital where tragically, despite efforts to save them both,they sadly died.

“There are no further details available just now and our thoughts are with the individuals’ families and friends at this sad time.”

A cordon has been placed around an area of the beach and police officers have spent the morning examining the scene.

Officers have been seen at the esplanade to examine the beach area

It comes two-and-a-half years after families were being urged to take care near the water, following the deaths of a six-year-old boy and his mother who were plucked from the water off Aberdeen beach.

Julie Walker, 37, and her son Lucas got into trouble at the popular spot and police talked of treacherous sea conditions and high winds during a rescue bid.