MISSING persons records were being examined tonight after two unidentified people were found burnt to death in a car close to the border.
Detectives are trying to piece together the final movements of the pair who were found sitting in the front seats of the blazing Volkswagen Golf.
The grim discovery was made by firefighters who tackled the inferno at the edge of a forest in Ravensdale, Co Louth, at 11.15pm.
Detectives sent out a cross border appeal for anyone with a missing family member or friend to come forward.
It is understood the bodies are those of two males with DNA and dental records expected to be used for identification.
The bodies have been removed from the scene for post morterm purposes to the morgue at Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda.
Superintendent Gerard Curley, of Dundalk Garda Station, said the tragedy was not yet linked with any missing people.
"We are appealing for anybody who saw anything suspicious, who knows about what happened or knows of any missing people to come forward," he added.
The secluded crime scene, in a valley in the foothills of the Cooley Mountains, is just off the main Dublin-Belfast road and about 10km north of Dundalk.
Forensic officers, specialists trained to recover the chassis number in burnt-out cars, sniffer dogs and the Garda helicopter were drafted by investigators.
Plastic bags, believed to be holding evidence, were carried out from under the blue tarpaulin which covered the scene, visible from the southbound carriage of the M1.
Deputy state pathologist Dr Khalid Jabbar examined the charred remains before they were removed in two white body bags. One was placed in a coffin and the other on a trolley before they were put in two blacked out Toyota Avensis estate cars and escorted to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda for an autopsy.
Prayers were said for the victims during morning Mass in Ravensdale parish church.
Local residents said they were shocked by the discovery, unaware of what had happened until morning.
Jim Loughran, local Sinn Fein councillor, said the area is usually scenic and tranquil.
"It's a nature trail with several walkways off it," he said.
"It's usually a very peaceful quiet area.
"We don't know if it was a tragic accident or something else."
Louth Fire Brigade said an initial 999 call from a passing motorist was received at 10.52pm.
"A fire service unit from Dundalk was called to deal with what was initially thought to be a routine car fire at a car park in Ravensdale, an area that is usually used by walkers in the Cooley Mountains," said a spokeswoman.
"As the fire was being brought under control, they discovered one badly burned body.
"They subsequently found a second body in the car.
"The scene was then preserved and Gardai have been at the location overnight."