A coroner is calling for action to prevent future deaths after two canoeists lost their lives in Bedfordshire's River Ouse.

Sarah Waller and Laura Pottinger had hired two canoes for an hour from Kempston Outdoor Centre in April last year. 

Their bodies were found in the river, at Kempston Mill, ten minutes before they had been due to return the canoes.

Sarah and Laura, aged 56 and 52, were both pronounced dead at the scene. 

One of the women was still caught in the circulating flow at the base of the weir, along with the two canoes and two life jackets.

According to the outdoor centre, both women had been renting canoes for them regularly for some years and had experience of the river.

Their inquests are yet to take place, but Emma Whitting, senior coroner for the Bedfordshire and Luton Coroner Service, has written to the Environment Agency and Right Honourable Therese Coffey MP, Secretary of State for the environment, food and rural affairs, warning that there could be future deaths if action is not taken. 

Ms Whitting, who visited the scene, said: "In my opinion, there is a risk that future deaths could occur unless action is taken.

"Although there is a physical barrier to prevent access to the top of the weir, there is no similar barrier to prevent access to the bottom, which appears just as hazardous in view of the recirculating flow, particularly during time of high water levels.

"In my opinion, action should be taken to prevent future deaths and I believe you (and/or your organisation) have the power to take such action."

Ms Coffey and the Environment Agency must respond by June 16, detailing action taken, or proposed to be taken, and setting out a timetable for this action. Otherwise, they must explain why no action is proposed.