An "outstanding an inspiring" American scientist found dead on the Greek island of Crete may have been murdered, police have said.

The body of molecular biologist Suzanne Eaton was discovered in a Second World War bunker almost a week after she went missing.

The 59-year-old, who worked at the Max Planck Institute in Dresden, Germany, was last seen alive on 2 July and her body was found on Monday.

Detectives from Athens have travelled to the tourism hotspot to lead an investigation into the death.

The state coroner has ruled that Ms Eaton died as a result of a criminal act at around the time she disappeared, and a homicide investigation has been launched.

Antonis Papadomanolakis said: It was on the day that she had gone for a run and two hours after her last meal when this event happened. But we cannot know if it happened close by or far away.

Authorities had launched a search for her in rural areas near Chania, the westernmost side of Crete, helped by members of her family and fire service rescuers from Athens.

Fire service rescue team leader Nikolaos Papaleonidas said: The recovery operation was not difficult but it followed an extensive search effort. The tunnel was about 100 metres from a rural road.

Ms Eaton was on the island to attend a scientific conference on insect hormones at the Orthodox Academy in the coastal northwestern village of Kolymbari.

According to a Facebook page set up by her family to raise awareness of her disappearance, some 70 others who were at the conference joined in with the search.

Following the discovery of her body, a statement on the page said the family would be forever grateful for the support we have received from this global community of caring people.

The German institute where she worked also paid tribute to Ms Eaton, saying her colleagues were deeply shocked and disturbed by this tragic event.

It added: Suzanne was an outstanding and inspiring scientist, a loving spouse and mother, an athlete as well as a truly wonderful person beloved to us all. Her loss is unbearable.

Our thoughts and prayers are with her husband Tony, her sons Max and Luke, and with all her family.

(c) Sky News 2019: Suzanne Eaton: US scientist found dead in Second World War bunker on Crete