RNLI Tower volunteers plucked a man out of the river Thames moments before he was lost under a closed arch at Blackfriars Railway Bridge. The team believe the men was moments away from drowning. Watch the footage of the RNLI in action here

The RNLI Tower lifeboat crew were called into action at 10.26pm on Sunday (5 November) after receiving reports of a man in the Thames at Southwark Bridge.

The lifeboat took only one minute to arrive at the Millennium Bridge and saw an object in the water behind a passenger vessel.

The crew of the passenger boat directed the Tower RNLI crew to its starboard side where two kayakers had also spotted the man in the water.

The lifeboat crew searched the water, but it appeared the man has disappeared below the surface. On an incoming tide the lifeboat continued back up river towards Blackfriars Railway Bridge and recovered a backpack which was floating in the water.

Chiswick RNLI lifeboat, which had been at Tower lifeboat station to re-fuel, also joined the search for the missing man.

The Tower volunteers proceeded along the north side of the river towards the second arch of Blackfriars Railway Bridge, anticipating the path the incoming tide would have taken the man.

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They used searchlights to scan either side of the lifeboat when crew member Helen Church caught sight of the man as he surfaced. The boat was quickly placed alongside and the crew pulled him on board.

The man was breathing, but was being sick because of ingesting water. He was taken to Tower Lifeboat station by Waterloo Bridge where he was taken to the medical room. The London Ambulance Service and London Air Ambulance arrived at the lifeboat station and the man was taken to hospital.

“It was a great spot by Helen on the crew,” said Jai Gudgion, who was at the helm of the Tower lifeboat.

“Although other vessels were present during the search no other vessel was nearby when the man briefly surfaced. He was quickly drifting towards a closed arch at Blackfriars and had limited time on the surface.

“There were lots of snags under the arch and he would probably have been pulled under so we feel this is a life saved,” he added.