Suicides 'to soar over New Year'
Sunday 22 August 1999
Police, the fire brigade, ambulance crews and the Thames river police are to practise throwing life-size human mannequins from London's bridges to see how quickly their boats can rescue them from the river.
A full-scale practice rescue operation will take place later this year when the weather conditions are closer to those expected in December.
"We will be hurling life-size, life-weight dummies from the bridges to show people how this can happen and to see how quickly we can respond," said a spokesman for the Port of London Authority which is in charge of safety on the Thames.
It is feared that some cults may stage mass suicides on millennium night, possibly in a high-profile location.
Emergency services are worried that rescue attempts could be hampered by hundreds of boats, including cruise ships and private yachts, which will gravitate to the Thames to watch the celebrations. Thousands of onlookers are expected to line the river banks and the bridges.
The chances of surviving a suicide attempt in the Thames are slim because of the freezing temperatures and the current. Rescuers must reach victims within 20 minutes for them to stand any chance of survival.
A recent rescue simulation, involving all London's emergency services, the Government and local authorities, looked at how the emergency services would respond to a crash between two pleasure boats with passengers thrown into the water. The mock-disaster found that it was unlikely that there would be enough emergency boats in the vicinity to get to most of the victims on time. "Unless you pulled the people out in 20 minutes you didn't stand a chance," said one participant. "I wouldn't go on the river again after the things I learned."
"The Government is putting a lot of emphasis on the river as the centre of the millennium celebrations," said Eddie Lister, leader of Wandsworth Council, which organised the rescue simulation, "but it comes back to whether they will be safe."
- 1 Benedict Cumberbatch says Hollywood is better for black British actors
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
Rowan Atkinson to sell £10 million McLaren 'supercar' he crashed into a tree and a lamppost
UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
US blames Russia after rocket attacks in Ukraine kill at least 30
Warriors in ancient Iraq suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder more than 3,000 years ago, say researchers
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
George Galloway condemns 'racist, Islamophobic, hypocritical rag' Charlie Hebdo at freedom of speech rally
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Railway Museum, the largest of its ...
£250 - £300 per day: Sauce Recruitment: (Rolling) 3 month contractA global en...
£40000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Junior Web Developer - ne...