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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 September, 2003, 16:11 GMT 17:11 UK
Three held after riverboat death
A police officer standing by the boat that capsized in the River Severn in Worcestershire
Members of the public helped to rescue some of the passengers
Inquiries are under way after a woman died and 15 people were rescued when a boat capsized on the River Severn.

The craft, carrying a private party, got into difficulties at Stourport-on-Severn marina, Worcestershire, shortly after 2200 BST on Saturday.

The woman, who had became trapped in the boat under the water line, was recovered unconscious by emergency services and members of the public who smashed their way through a porthole.

Two women and a man have been arrested and are being questioned as part of a criminal investigation into what happened.

Fifteen passengers from the boat, a white 20-foot cruiser called Sweetie Pie, either swam to the bank or were hauled to safety by rescuers.

Flotilla comes to rescue

The woman who died was taken to Worcester Hospital, but failed to regain consciousness.

The 15 people who survived were taken to Kidderminster Hospital and treated for minor injuries, shock, and the effect of being in the water.

I believe this would have been a disaster on a much greater scale had it not been for the tremendous efforts of members of the public
Chief Inspector Alan Baldwin

Members of the public in a flotilla of small boats helped the emergency services and the Severn Area Rescue Association (SARA) in the rescue operation.

Police said that all 16 of the passengers are from the Worcestershire and the West Midlands.

Chief Inspector Alan Baldwin, who co-ordinated the rescue, said: "It is tragic that a lady has lost her life as a result of this incident, our thoughts are now very much with her family.

"However, I believe this would have been a disaster on a much greater scale had it not been for the tremendous efforts of the members of the emergency services, SARA and the members of the public who responded to this incident."

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Rowsell, who is leading the criminal investigation into the incident, appealed to anyone who saw the boat on the river during Saturday's town carnival to contact police.

He said it was thought there were a number of people on deck as the vessel cruised up and down the river.

Police have not ruled out the possibility that the boat may have been overloaded.

The BBC's Peter Lane
"The police must now determine what went wrong"

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