Two young sisters yesterday told how they leapt for their lives into the River Thames after an amphibious pleasure boat went up in flames.
Primary schoolgirls Tiegan, four, and Stacey, seven, were visiting London with their grandparents when the terrifying incident happened.
They were crossing the Thames on the converted World War II DUKW vehicle – known as a duck – when it caught fire and began to sink.
The youngsters jumped into the river but were rescued by their grandpa, Dave Jones, 61, who lost his £1,000 wedding ring in the process.
Their grandma Fran, 60, also lost her phone in the drama on Sunday afternoon.
It was not until seven hours later when the girls and grandparents returned to Bristol Bus Station that parents Kerry Ball, 24 and Chris Jones, 31, knew they were safe.
Kerry said: “The girls had gone up to London for the weekend to watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the theatre and we knew they were going on a boat trip.
“My mum rang me to say there had been a fire on one of the boats and the panic just set in.
“It was made worse by the fact we couldn’t get hold of Grandma, because she had lost her phone in the Thames.
“We just spent most of the day crying, because we didn’t know what was going on.
“Chris was worse. He was getting more and more tearful and said he would walk to London if the girls were in hospital.
“Stacey says they were only on there for about 20 minutes when it happened. She said Grampa had said he could smell burning and told someone but they didn’t believe him.
“She remembers jumping in the water and people pushing and shoving to get in because they were so scared.
“Stacey is talking about it a lot and she said she was scared she wouldn’t come home and see mummy or daddy again.
“Waiting for the bus to come and not knowing whether they were going to be on it or not was horrible.
“I was at home with our baby Bliss, who has just turned five months, but Chris rang me to say everything was OK – it was a huge relief.”
Three passengers, including a pregnant woman, were treated for smoke inhalation following the fire on Sunday afternoon.
London Fire Brigade said it was lucky the tide was low at the time of the incident allowing people to jump overboard and stand in the water.
The Port of London authority is investigating how the fire started on the craft run by London Duck Tours.
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