Two firemen were in hospital after diving in the icy waters of Langstone Harbour to reach people feared to be trapped in a submerged car off the end of a Portsmouth quay.
Lashed to safety lines, the firemen dived repeatedly, using breathing apparatus for air, to reach the car embedded upside down in the mud off Great Salterns Quay.
By the time they smashed windows and opened the car doors to check inside, both firemen were growing weak from the intense cold and were pulled out.
Other firemen on the quay, off Eastern Road, helped the frozen pair strip off their wet clothes and ambulancemen were on hand with blankets to treat them for the effects of exposure.
Recovering in the ambulance before being taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, for further treatment, firemen Bill Spivey, 35, and Bob Rowson, 32, spoke of the underwater drama.
‘The car was completely under water with all its doors shut, and there were real fears people were still trapped inside.
‘Once we found it was empty we did a quick search of the mud around it, but there was no one,’ said fireman Spivey.