A manhunt has been launched after two suitcases containing suspected human remains were found at the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol.

Police were called to reports of a man with a suitcase acting suspiciously on the landmark bridge just before midnight on Wednesday, but when officers arrived less than 10 minutes later the man had left, leaving the suitcase behind.

A second suitcase was found nearby a short time later.

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Avon and Somerset Police said their “immediate priority” was to locate the man and identify the human remains.

Acting Bristol Commander Vicks Hayward-Melen said: “An immediate search of the area was carried out by officers on the ground with the support of the National Police Air Service and HM Coastguard following the discovery of the suitcases.

“These searches remain ongoing.

“Initial inquiries have established the man was taken to the bridge in a taxi.

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“This vehicle has been seized and the driver is helping us with our inquiries.

“Specialist crime scene investigators are currently examining the bridge and surrounding area, and the bridge will remain closed while these inquiries are conducted.”

A large cordon was put in place as forensic investigators worked at the scene on Thursday afternoon, with the bridge and visitor centre expected to be closed for the rest of the day.

A post-mortem examination will take place later on Thursday.

The Clifton Suspension Bridge visitor centre is closed due to the police activity, its operators said on social media.

The Grade I listed landmark, which spans the Avon Gorge, was designed by noted Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel and opened in 1864.