By Richard Weizel
(Reuters) - A body found floating in the Providence River by members of Brown University's men's rowing team is "quite possibly" a 22-year-old student missing since March 16, police said on Wednesday.
Providence police said the body they pulled from the river on Tuesday could be that of Sunil Tripathi, 22.
"We are awaiting results from the Rhode Island Medical Examiner's Office on his identity," said Lindsay Lague, public information officer for the Providence Police Department.
Asked if it was the missing student, Lague said, "Obviously it is a distinct possibility, but we can't say for sure until we get the results of the autopsy."
Dara Chadwick, a spokeswoman for the Rhode Island Department of Health, said an autopsy was being conducted, but she did not know when an identity might be available and she declined to release any details.
National media attention was cast upon Tripathi after social media websites lit up with a sensational - and false - rumor last week that he was one of the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. The actual suspects have been identified as Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Tripathi was on an approved leave from Brown University but was still considered enrolled, said University spokeswoman Darlene Trew Crist.
He was last seen in his apartment on Angell Street in Providence around 11 a.m. on March 16, police said, where his cellphone and credit card were found but other personal items were missing. Police said the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been assisting in the probe.
The body found on Tuesday had been in the water for a long time, police said.
(Reporting by Richard Weizel in Milford, Connecticut; Editing by Scott Malone, Toni Reinhold)