Gemma McCluskie: Family and friends await news after unidentified torso found and man arrested

Family fears were growing yesterday for the safety of missing EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie after a dismembered female body was discovered in the Regents Canal.

Police launched a murder investigation after the torso was pulled out of the water close to the Broadway Market stretch of the canal by Met divers at 2.40pm on Tuesday.

The grisly discovery comes after EastEnders actress Gemma McCluskie went missing from her home off Hackney Road in Bethnal Green last Thursday.

Police have not ruled out whether the body could be that of Gemma and said her disappearance form one line of inquiry.

A close friend of Gemma said: ”We’re devastated we have still not found Gemma and are praying it’s not Gemma.

“Her disappearance is completely out of character. She always keeps in contact but nobody can get hold of her.”

Gemma starred as Kerry Skinner in 30 episodes of BBC’s EastEnders back in 2001. Her character was the great niece of the late Ethel Skinner and a friend of character Zoe Slater.

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Family and friends put up posters all over the East End in search of Gemma but Tower Hamlets Council was accused of removing the posters.

A council spokeswoman said: “Now we are aware of the purpose of these posters we have instructed sweepers to leave them in place to support the search.”

An appeal for information was also launched on Facebook and Twitter by family and friends, and supported by her Eastenders co-star and friend Natalie Cassidy, who plays Sonia, along with Brooke Kinsella.

The police say further searches of the water where a body was discovered will be carried out.

A spokeswoman said: “Police were initially contacted by a member of the public who noticed something suspicious floating in the water.

“At this early stage officers believe they know the identity of the victim but must await further forensic tests before formal identification can take place.”

A 35-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident and remains in custody.

Anyone with information should call the Incident Room on 020 8345 3985 or to remain anonymous Crimestoppers on 0800555 111.