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Authorities seek to identify body found in Niagara River below falls

U.S. authorities recovered the body of a woman Thursday morning on the American side of the lower Niagara River, but whether it is that of a Japanese student who went over the Horseshoe Falls on Sunday has not been determined.

The body was pulled from the river at about 10 a.m. after a Cave of the Winds employee reported it floating in the water near the shore of the attraction, according to a statement by State Park Police.

Park police found the body about 100 feet below the path for the Cave of the Winds. Niagara Falls firefighters assisted in the recovery. It was taken to the Erie County Medical Center to be identified. An autopsy also will be performed, police said.

Police would not say Thursday whether it was the body of Ayano Tokumasu, the 19-year-old student from Japan who was studying English as a second language in Toronto.

Tokumasu, whose identity was revealed by the news media in Canada although authorities continued to withhold it, fell into the upper rapids and was swept over the Horseshoe Falls at about 8:30 p.m. Sunday after straddling a metal-and-stone railing near the brink.

Niagara Regional Police, meanwhile, reported Thursday a body found Monday had been identified as that of a 41-year-old resident of the Hamilton, Ont., area who previously had been reported missing. Police said his name was being withheld pending notification of his next of kin.

His body was discovered at about 7:40 a.m. Monday in the Whirlpool area while Niagara Parks Police were searching the lower river for Tokumasu.

The body was spotted by a helicopter crew from the Erie County Sheriff's Office that was helping in the search.

Authorities said foul play was not suspected.

News Staff Reporter Charlie Specht contributed to this report.

email: tpignataro@buffnews.com