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1989: Marchioness river crash 'kills 30'

VIDEO : The Marchioness bow was breached within minutes

At least 30 people died when a pleasure cruiser, packed with young party-goers, and a barge collided on the River Thames.

The captain and second mate of the barge, the dredger Bowbelle, are now under arrest.

Among those still missing are the captain of the cruiser, the Marchioness, and a city banker who chartered the boat to celebrate his birthday.

There are fears the final death toll could be as high as 60.

Divers are still searching below deck where more bodies are expected to be found.

Most of those on board were young people in their 20s.

Both vessels were moving down river towards Southwark Bridge in the early hours of Sunday morning when they collided.

The Marchioness's owners said the 90-ton boat was struck a blow from the 2,000-ton dredger which forced it directly into the larger vessel's path.

They said the Bowbelle then ran over the cruiser forcing it underwater "like a bicycle being run over by a lorry".


So far the owners of the Bowbelle have made no public comment.

Police commandeered other boats to search for survivors who had been tipped into the river after the collision.

Party-goers on other cruisers witnessed the events and some tried to help.

"We were all shouting at the driver to back up to try and rescue some of the people which he did.

"We got back and some of the guys jumped into the water and pulled some of the people onto our boat," said one witness, Rob Elliott.

So far 89 people are known to have survived the crash.

Earlier today some of them left the hospitals where they had been taken after being pulled from the river.

In Context
A total of 51 people died in the collision.

The Bowbelle's skipper, Douglas Henderson, was acquitted after a trial in 1991.

In April 1995 a jury returned verdicts of unlawful killings in inquests held for those who drowned.

The families of victims campaigned more than 10 years for a public inquiry which began in 2000.

The report published in 2001 criticised Douglas Henderson for failing to set up a proper lookout.

Later that year the Maritime and Coastguard agency ruled Mr Henderson could keep his master's certificate.

In 2002 the first River Thames lifeboat rescue service was started in response to one of the report's recommendations.

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