A woman is dead after the vehicle she was driving plunged into a river and floated dangerously close to the brink of Niagara Falls.

New York State Parks Police confirmed they were called before 12 p.m. on Wednesday after the car became stuck in the rapids less than 100 metres from the American side of the falls.

Police said they determined from eye witnesses that there was at least one occupant in the vehicle and an emergency operation was launched.

Niagara Falls rescue

According to police, water levels in Niagara River were lowered by the Power Authority, while drones and a helicopter were used to get a closer look at the vehicle.

A diver was then lowered from a hovering helicopter, climbed into the car and pulled out the body out of the driver's seat, authorities said.

“It was an incredible job by the Coast Guard,” Park Police Capt. Christopher Rola said at a news conference Wednesday.

Police said a Western New York woman, aged in her late 60s and local to the area, was pronounced dead.

Niagara Falls

Police said they are not able to confirm at this time why the vehicle ended up in the river.

New York State Parks Police said the Canadian Coast Guard was also called in as part of the investigation. 

Roads in the area were slippery as a light snow fell when the incident occurred.

Authorities said the car remains in the river while they determine the "best course of action to remove it."

Rola said rescuers have never before been called for a vehicle that ended up so close to the edge of Niagra Falls.