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Iowa police "confident" that bodies are those of missing girls

(Reuters) - Iowa police said on Thursday they are confident that two bodies found by hunters in a wooded area are cousins who vanished last summer while riding their bikes.

"At this time, law enforcement is confident, based upon evidence at the scene and our preliminary investigation, that the bodies found yesterday are those of Lyric Cook and Elizabeth Collins," Captain Rick Abben, chief deputy of the Black Hawk County Sheriff's Office, said in a statement.

Collins was 8 and Cook 10 when they were last seen July 13 riding their bicycles in Evansdale in northeast Iowa, after leaving their grandmother's house.

The girls' bikes and a purse were found at Meyers Lake in Evansdale, prompting investigators to drag and drain the lake in a fruitless search for the girls.

The autopsy results have not been provided to police yet.

The bodies were found at the Seven Bridges conservation area in Bremer County in northeast Iowa. Law enforcement is conducting a search in the area that may last several days, the statement said.

(Reporting By Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Greg Mccune and Stacey Joyce)