A man was rescued from the Thames last night with only minutes to live.

He was hidden from view inbetween two boats but was dragged to safety by the Tower RNLI lifeboat crew - with help from two passersby.

Volunteer RNLI crewman Matt Leat said: “There were two lads on the bridge above us shouting very loudly, waving their arms and pointing downstream.

“I’m pretty certain they were on their way home from a night out, but lucky they were, as they saved us precious seconds in locating the casualty.

“The lads were pointing towards two large boats moored in the middle of the river so we zoomed over. It was dark and he was well hidden from view, but we could just make out a face poking out above the water between the two boats.

“The tide was flowing fast, funneling water between the vessels, which made it very difficult to get to the casualty. Our helmsman skillfully manoeuvred the lifeboat into position which allowed the crew to reach the man and pull him aboard to safety.”

Despite the man’s ordeal, he did not appear to have any lasting injuries.

Matt added: “Once he was in the river he only had minutes to live. The River Thames is very cold and you can only cling onto something for so long before hypothermia sets in and you lose your ability to grip. If this man had let go of the mooring lines, he most likely would have been lost to the strong currents flowing between the vessels and died.”