Oxford

Stranded Oxford narrow boat 'deliberately untied' before crash

The boat
Image caption The Environment Agency has unsuccessfully tried pumping water out of the boat and towing it with a tractor

The owner of a stranded narrow boat that crashed in the River Thames has said his home must have been deliberately untied.

Engineers are still trying to winch One Old Peculiar out of the water after it was one of two boats that came loose on Monday and crashed into Botley Bridge.

The Environment Agency has so far unsuccessfully tried pumping out water and towing it with a tractor.

Owner John Simmonds, 35, said he had lost everything and feels "gobsmacked".

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Media captionJohn Simmonds said he was not sure whether he had valid insurance for the narrow boat

He said the boat was properly secured when he left it for 30 to 45 minutes to get some lunch, but had been unmoored when he returned.

Mr Simmonds, who works as a computer programmer, said the cause could be "delinquency" and added: "I don't think it was personal, I don't have many enemies.

"Some people may not realise how these things can escalate very, very quickly."

He added he was not sure whether he had valid insurance for the narrow boat.

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Media captionThe narrow boats came loose from moorings on Monday

Russell Robson, Environment Agency team leader, said he was "optimistic" the latest attempt would work.

He said the river conditions meant it was too dangerous to put divers inside the 25-tonne boat.

Mr Robson added: "That has prevented us from using flotation to get the vessel higher in the water and pump it out.

"What we're looking to do is to attach steel to it and use a winch to try and winch it across the river and control it coming out via other winches attached to the land on either side."

Image caption The Environment Agency is trying to dig a channel so the boat can be winched out of the water

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