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Suicide and survival on the Thames

In two separate incidents on Thursday night, lifeboat, fire and police boats were sent to rescue to people in trouble in the River Thames near Westminster Bridge.

The first incident, which occurred just after 6pm, when a man was seen jumping from Westminster Bridge in an apparent suicide attempt. An extensive search of the area by marine units and the Metropolitan Police Air Support Unit failed to locate the man, despite the fire launch and inshore lifeboat being on scene in the area within 10 minutes of the man jumping. It is therefore believed that on this occasion his attempt was regrettably successful.

A passenger on a passing boat also jumped into the water in a very brave attempt to rescue the man; this courageous male passenger was then picked up by another tourist boat and landed safe and well at Westminster Pier. He then left the area without giving his details.

Early on Friday morning just before 1 am an inebriated young woman jumped into the river at the London Eye for a swim across the River Thames. Again she was spotted in her attempt and the full resources of the rescue services available to London Coastguard were mobilised.

She was located and rescued by the Tower Pier RNLI inshore lifeboat at Temple Stairs, a full mile downstream of where she had entered the water. The lifeboat crew reported that she was a very lucky lady as the current at the time was running at 3 knots which is a speed almost impossible to swim against by a normal person.

"Both incidents graphically highlight the dangers of the River Thames in Central London which may appear inviting and placid but with strong currents, a fresh/salt water mix giving reduced buoyancy, means that survivability in the river is measured in moments rather than minutes," said Frank Aubin-Hart of the London Coastguard.

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