DETECTIVES were last night trying to piece together the final movements of two pals whose bodies were found in a smoke-filled car in an apparent double suicide.

The two men, believed to be good friends, were found in a Vauxhall Astra parked in the yard of a house in East Street, Blackhall Colliery, near Hartlepool.

Police, who found a hosepipe attached to the car's exhaust, say they are not treating the incident as suspicious.

But detectives admitted they were baffled by the double tragedy.

The pair have not yet been formally identified. One is believed to be a local man.

A spokesman for Durham Police said the occupant of the house, believed to be a friend of the men, discovered the car with its engine still running at 7.45am.

The men, aged in their thirties, were declared dead at the scene and their bodies were taken to the University Hospital of North Durham in Durham City.

Acting Detective Inspector Kevin Langan said yesterday: "At this stage the deaths are not being treated as suspicious. While formal identification has yet to be carried out, we believe we know the identity of the pair.

"They are not related, but are thought to be good friends. The occupant of the house where the car was parked is also believed to be a friend of the deceased."

Detective Inspector Langan said the circumstances of the friends' deaths were highly unusual.

"I have never come across a case like this before," he said.

He said the pair, both family men from Blackhall, were found slumped in the front two seats of the white K-registration car.

He said that the car would have been driven into the yard between 1am and 7.45am and urged anyone who had seen the car to get in touch.

Post-mortem examinations are expected to be carried out today and inquests will be opened.

Anyone with information is asked to call Peterlee police station on 0191-586 2621.