POLICE have found what they fear to be a body concealed in a cemetery near the home of a missing mother-of-two.
Officers contacted the family of Lindsay Birbeck, who disappeared two weeks ago, following the discovery at Accrington Cemetery.
Last night police confirmed the find in the Burnley Road graveyard not far from where the 47-year-old teaching assistant lived.
Officers were called to the cemetery just before 8pm on Saturday night after a member of the public made the discovery at the far end of the burial ground near the East Lancashire railway line.
It is understood to have been concealed.
By this morning large sections of the cemetery had been sealed off by dozens of officers and a white forensic tent had been set up for further investigations.
Around 3.30pm several officers were seen carrying a bag away from the scene.
The intense police activity left visitors to the cemetery shocked.
The arrival of the large police presence and forensic team at the graveyard follows an extensive search for Ms Birbeck who has not been sighted since she went missing from her home in Burnley Road, Huncoat around 4pm on August 12.
She was last seen on CCTV footage shortly afterwards walking towards Accrington town centre.
A police spokesman said late this afternoon: "We were called at shortly before 8pm on Saturday to a report by a member of the public of an unidentified object in an area of Accrington Cemetery, Burnley Road.
"Officers attended the scene and there is a concern this could be the body of a person.
"An examination of the scene is ongoing but at this stage it is too early to say exactly what the object is or how long it may have been there.
"The family of missing teaching assistant Lindsay Birbeck have been visited and informed of the development but at this early stage it is too soon to say if the find is linked to her disappearance. We would urge people not to speculate on social media as this could cause the family additional distress."
One visitor Malcolm Taylor, 71, from Rishton was on his weekly trip to tend family graves.
He said yesterday: “Every day this week I have seen police officers sweeping up and down the cemetery in a line.
“They appeared to be looking at graves and searching for someone.
“I’ve seen police again today. I am just shocked by what is happening.”
“It’s disturbing what’s happened and I’m very shocked.”
Ms Birbeck's Huawei mobile phone is also missing.
She was last seen wearing a purple Rab bubble jacket, black leggings, a white shirt with blue pin stripes and black trainers with a white sole