A row of boats were left stranded on a canal bed after the water was mistakenly drained.
Bizarre pictures show a number of canal boats stuck in mud or tipped partially onto their sides after a mechanical fault with the sluice gates at Kennet and Avon Canal in Twerton, Bath on Tuesday evening.
Crews from Avon Fire and Rescue attended the scene with their specialist water rescue unit after water levels dropped by two metres in an hour-and-a-half just before 7pm.
No rescues were necessary, but The Canal and River Trust said ‘massive distress’ had been inflicted on local boaters.
Avril McGovern, who lives on a boat in the area, said the incident had a ‘devastating impact’ on her friends, with some forced to find alternative accommodation.
The local, who was out at dinner when she started received messages about the river levels changing, said: ‘I thought I’m quite safe because I’m behind the lock but then there were more posts on the Facebook group that I’m in saying that it was draining, so I raced back to see my boat resting on the bottom.
‘Some other boats had sunk and a couple of friends had to find alternative accommodation, so obviously that is going to have quite a devastating impact on them.’
An Environment spokesman has apologised for any ‘disruption and anxiety’ caused.
He added that they were working with the Fire & Rescue service, the Canal and River Trust and other partners to ‘manage the restoration of the river levels in the most effective way’.
It comes after a boater accidentally drained Kennet and Avon Canal when they didn’t close the lock properly in 2018.
A spokeswoman from the Canal and River Trust said today: ‘At 6.45pm on 15 September the Canal & River Trust were told of a drop in water level on the River Avon caused by a failure of the Environment Agency’s sluice gates at Twerton.
‘The sudden and dramatic drop in levels meant that, unfortunately, it was impossible to give warning to the boaters.
‘However, we immediately attended the site to join the emergency services to provide support to boaters.
‘Prompt action was taken to close the section of the waterway between locks 6 and 7 and a notice issued on the Trust website advising against navigation in the area.
‘We continue to be available on site to help our boating customers who have obviously been caused massive distress.
‘While we understand the difficulties faced by the EA in repairing the sluice this is the second time this has happened, so we are looking to them to find a solution as a matter of urgency.’
Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at email@example.com.
For more stories like this, check our news page.