Tuesday 30 May 2017

Man missing as tug boat capsizes on River Thames

Peter Woodman

A huge search-and-rescue operation is underway for a crew member missing after a tug boat capsized and sank on the River Thames in London.

Two other crew members were safely rescued after the tug, called Chieftain and which was towing a barge with a crane on it, went down off Greenwich Pier in south London just before 11am.



A section of the river was closed as the search for the missing crew member went on.



The search was being co-ordinated by the Woolwich-based London coastguard and involved police, the Port of London Authority, the fire brigade and lifeboat crews.



A Port of London Authority spokesman said: "It is believed there were three crew members on the Chieftain. Two were safely recovered and were taken ashore. A major search-and-rescue operation is going on."



Thames safety measures were tightened in the aftermath of the 1989 Marchioness riverboat sinking disaster in which 51 people died when their boat was in a collision with a dredger on the Thames near Southwark, south London.



The improved measures included the setting up of the London coastguard which is located at the Thames Barrier Navigation Centre at Woolwich.



Today's sinking follows the death on the Thames last week of Ben Woollacott, 19, a crewman on the Woolwich Ferry.



He fell from the ferry and under its propeller while mooring ropes were being untied.



Paramedics treated the crewman when he was pulled from the Thames, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.



He was the son of Stephen Woollacott, owner of a Thames riverboat company.



Transport for London said today the Woolwich Ferry will be suspended on Monday as staff will be paying their respects at Mr Woollacott's funeral.



Thames River Services and Crown River Cruises are also suspending services on Monday.

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