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Samaria Ayanle: Body found in Thames three weeks ago believed to be missing SOAS university student

Samaria Ayanle (Metropolitan Police)
Samaria Ayanle (Metropolitan Police)

A body pulled from the River Thames last month is thought to be that of missing London student Samaria Ayanle, police have said.

The 19-year-old was reported missing by staff at SOAS university, where she was a first-year student, on Friday.

Metropolitan Police launched an investigation and found she was last seen on CCTV at her university accommodation near Marble Arch nearly three weeks earlier, on Thursday February 22.

The Met launched an appeal to the public on Tuesday, saying they were growing “increasingly concerned” for Samaria’s welfare and urged anyone with information to come forward.

But on Wednesday, the force said it now believes a body found in the Thames on February 22 - the day Samaria was last seen - is that of the missing student.

Her death is being treated as “unexplained”, pending further investigation.

The body was found on the north foreshore near Putney Pier by a member of the public, around 8.20am on February 22.

No personal property was found on the person, said police. Finger print tests were carried out but no match was found.

“Police checked recent missing persons reports but the body did not match the description of any other persons reported missing around that time,” said the Met in a statement on Wednesday.

“The body was sent to the Coroner to conduct further checks. Meanwhile details were uploaded onto the UK Missing Persons database in the hopes the person might be identified.”

Scotland Yard said officers “linked their enquiries to the February 22 discovery on Wednesday”, adding: “They have viewed body-worn video from then and believe the person found is Samaria”.

Formal identification is yet to take place. Her family and friends have been informed.

“Our thoughts are with them and we will support them at this difficult time,” said a Met spokesperson.

In a statement released on Wednesday, SOAS University of London said it was “deeply saddened” by the news.

It said Samaria was a first-year student, studying for a BA in Japanese and the History of Art.

“Our thoughts are with her family, loved ones and friends at this difficult time,” said the university.

“We know that this news will be felt by many ad we will be doing everythin we can to support friends, family and the wider student and staff community.”

Anyone with information that could help police should call 101 ref 01/60807/24. You can also share via @MetCC on X.