PICTURE UPDATE: Dive boat recovered after rescue drama off Lowestoft

THE dive boat at the centre of a major drama in Lowestoft has been recovered, and is now back on the town's quay.

The 33ft boat was recovered last night – and this is the first picture of the damaged vessel, just hours after the Lowestoft Lifeboat crew had rescued 11 men.

As previously reported, four men were trapped in the wheelhouse as the boat sunk at the stern. They managed to escape through the wheelhouse window.

A Lowestoft Lifeboat spokesman said: 'The picture shows its the smallest of windows in the wheelhouse and this is what the men would've had to have squeezed through.'

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch will now be carrying out an investigation, as it is yet to be determined why the boat took on water.

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

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

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Ian Meers, one of the divers who was stuck in the wheelhouse - with the door stuck fast - said it was 'very frightening' as 'everyone was trapped.'

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, it must have been terrifying - but they were remarkably calm.'

And today, for Mr Fox, it is 'business as usual' as he returned to restock the lifeboat after the area was a hive of activity yesterday.

The lifeboat spokesman added: 'After two call-outs yesterday John has been down on the lifeboat this morning to maintain it.'

Dave Moore, watch officer for Yarmouth Coastguard, recounted yesterday's incident.

He said: 'Yarmouth Coastguard received a call from Lowestoft Harbour Control at 12.12pm informing them that the dive boat was a quarter of a nautical mile east of the harbour and the boat was sinking by the stern and people were in the water.

'The Lowestoft RNLI all-weather lifeboat was exercising in the area and was in a fortunate position to be able to be on scene rapidly and retrieve all 11 people from the water.'

What was planned to be a recreational dive for the divers almost turned into tragedy as the 11 men aboard a 33ft boat were pulled to safety by the town's RNLI lifeboat as the waves crashed over them.

Last night, a specialist tug, with a crane, lifted the stricken boat from the sea.

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