‘Amazing’ rescue recalled as 11 men plucked to safety by Lowestoft lifeboat crew

Divers who were dramatically rescued by a lifeboat as their vessel started to sink recalled their terror last night.

Further details of Sunday's 'amazing' rescue of 11 men by the crew of the Lowestoft lifeboat have emerged with confirmation that the four men trapped in the wheelhouse as the boat sank at the stern managed to escape through the smallest of windows.

A Lowestoft lifeboat spokesman said: 'The wheelhouse window was below the sea level and they had to duck down through the air pocket they were in to squeeze through the narrow window. 'It was an amazing escape.'

Ian Meers, one of the four divers who found themselves neck-deep in water in the wheelhouse - with the door stuck fast - said it was 'very frightening' as 'everyone was trapped,' and they could not break the windows.

One man suffered severe bruising as he desperately tried to squeeze through the small window, while another diver, who didn't to be named, said: 'Whatever happened, happened - it could have been a lot worse. We probably spent five or six minutes maximum in the water.'

Lowestoft lifeboat coxswain John Fox said: 'The guys in the wheelhouse were stuck in there for a few minutes and to see them in the wheelhouse looking out of the windows, they must have been terrified - but they were remarkably calm and brave.'

It is understood that the Marine Accident Investigation Branch will now carry out an inquiry into the incident, as it is yet to be determined why the boat took on water.

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The four men who were taken to hospital, suffering from 'diesel ingestion' and shock, have now been discharged. It is believed that one of the men was transferred to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, after getting diesel in his eye, but he was also allowed to return home.

The lifeboat spokesman said: 'They have all been discharged and it really is a wonderful outcome.'

The 33ft boat was recovered by a specialist tug - the Voe Earl - on Sunday night. The stricken dive boat, which partially sank, was lifted from the water just hours after the rescue, and is now on the north quay.

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