Man missing as tug boat sinks in Thames at Deptford

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Media captionThe vessel, called Chiefton, capsized and sank at about 10:50 BST near Greenwich Pier

A man is missing after a tug boat overturned on the River Thames in south-east London.

The vessel, called Chiefton, capsized and sank at about 10:50 BST at Convoys Wharf in Deptford, near Greenwich Pier.

A spokesman for the Port of London Authority said one of the three-man crew was still missing.

The stretch of river where the tug sank has been partially reopened after the rescue operation involving fire crews, the coastguard and the police.

The authority said it had located the tug using a survey vessel and was assessing the first stages of how to lift it out of the water.

The Chiefton, which is based at Gravesend in Kent, was towing a crane barge named Skyline at the time of the incident.

'Holding ropes'

Chris Lewis, who witnessed the incident from his flat, said it sank rapidly.

"I saw the platform coming down the river being pushed by one tug and pulled by another," he said.

"I turned away for a few seconds and when I looked back, the tug doing the pulling capsized.

"I saw two crew members scramble off the capsized vessel and they were holding on to the ropes which were holding the tug and platform together.

"I could not see if both of them were pulled out but one of them was hauled on to the platform.

"The tug sank very quickly, within about 30 seconds. I saw the stern of the tug going under."

Daniel Jaffa was due to go on a sailing trip but it was cancelled due to the rescue operation.

He said: "The rescue teams are using tourist boats on that stretch of the river to search for the missing person.

"An RNLI lifeboat came over to us and told us the Thames has been closed between Greenwich and Tower Bridge."

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

The 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.

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