POLICE divers will this morning begin a search for the body of a man who plunged 60ft from the top of the England's most powerful waterfall.

The missing man, thought to be in his 30s and from the Jarrow area, fell from the top of High Force, at Forest in Teesdale, County Durham, at about 6pm yesterday, and failed to surface.

The remote area around the popular tourist attraction, which had been packed with day-trippers when the tragedy happened, was immediately cleared and sealed off.

Details of the missing man are not being released until members of his family have been informed.

It is understood he slipped and lost his footing on the rocks above the falls, possibly injuring his head as he fell.

There is nothing to suggest the victim was involved in any horseplay.

It is feared his body may have become trapped behind one of a number of submerged ledges at the foot of the waterfall.

More than 30 members of the emergency services, including police, ambulance, fire crews and fell rescue teams, supported by the police helicopter and Great North Air Ambulance, spent the evening searching for the man, but without success.

The search was hampered by the heavy flow of water in the river and was called off at nightfall.

The search will resume this morning when the beauty spot will be closed to the public.

A spokesman for Durham Police said: "Due to river conditions, we have not been able to use police divers in the search, especially with regard to submerged ledges at the base of the falls."

This morning, staff from Northumbria Water were due to close the outflow from Cow Green Reservoir, which is about six miles upstream from High Force.

This will, in turn, reduce the flow of water over the falls.

The police spokesman said: "This will allow police divers to commence a full search of the base of the falls and it is intended that access to the area will be restricted while this operation is ongoing."