Dramatic scenes unfolded in Richmond last night when a floating restaurant, among several other boats sank into the Thames.
A pontoon had failed, leaving several boats to rapidly take on water in the early hours of this morning.
Lifeboats were called to the chaotic scene at the request of the London Coastguard shortly after 1 am.
The stern of The Boat restaurant, moored near Richmond Bridge, was completely submerged by the time help arrived.
The vessel is thought to be only one of 11 in existence, and was once owned by Jesus College, Oxford.
The restaurant was shut at the time of the incident.
London Fire Brigade confirmed that no one was inside.
Shocked crowds watched helplessly from the riverside as Lifeboat personnel arrived at a scene described as ‘mayhem.’
Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) crew member James Kavanagh said:
The river was littered with floating debris and owners of the rowing boats tethered to the pontoon were frantically trying to salvage as much as they could.
The pontoon had failed and any vessel moored with decent rope was quickly being dragged under.
As the tide rose, the stern of The Boat restaurant became fully submerged.
There were no reports of casualties from the incident, and the lifeboat crew carried out a salvage operation to return floating debris to the riverside.