In the early morning hours yesterday, a man called emergency services from a bridge in Hangzhou to report that a car was out taking a swim in the city’s iconic West Lake. Police say that the driver surnamed Tang drove his car into the lake accidentally while he was distracted with his smartphone.
Local reporters arrived on the scene at 12:40 a.m. and spotted fire engines with flashing lights by the roadside and a police boat approaching the white roof of the mostly-sunken BMW just 15 meters off-shore. In the police interview, Tang claimed that he had dropped his phone while playing around with it at the steering wheel of his car. He tried to search for the phone while pulling over, but accidentally stepped on the accelerator instead.
Here’s a quick recap of the rescue operation from People’s Daily, via NetEase:
Sept 16, 01:20 Because the car was located so deep in the water, buoys were placed around it. The first few salvage attempts made by police were unsuccessful. Firefighters gradually managed to thread a rope through the windows and tie it on top of the car roof. They then tried to winch the car up and out of the water with the front windshield pointed toward shore.
Sept 16, 01:25 On shore, dozens of firefighters and police began to tug the ropes tied to the car, shouting as they heaved. Working together the effort was quite effective, ending with most of the roof peeking up above the surface of the lake only 5 meters from the shore.”
Sept 16, 01:35 The captain of Hangzhou West Lake fire squadron told reporters that when they received the emergency call two fire engines were dispatched to the scene. Firefighters found that the driver had managed to make his own way to shore, still conscious, but his car was floating in the water.
Police arrived, fixing ropes to the car, allowing firefighters to try and pull the vehicle ashore. However, because of an underwater fence barrier, in addition to the special structure of the convertible, they were forced to wait for a crane to arrive and lift the vehicle out. The captain mentioned that the car’s side windows were already open so they obtained the driver’s consent to fix the ropes in place.
Sept. 16, 01:53 The crane hooks and ropes were fastened to the car’s roof. The first attempt didn’t work as the convertible’s roof burst open. Some officers began to point at the car’s wheels.
Sept. 16, 02:05 An emergency services worker took off his and pants and stepped into the water, attaching the rope from the crane to the two front wheels of the car.
Sept. 16, 02:15 The front of the BMW was finally lifted out of the water and the whole car was pulled ashore. On the rear you can clearly see the car’s Hangzhou license plate. All things considered it could have been worse: The front bumper was damaged, one side of the car was scratched from where it had been dragged across the ground and the right-side mirror had been knocked off.
Sept. 16, 02:20 The bumper of the car fell off releasing a fairly big (and very surprised) fish. A crowd of workers came over to take a look.
by Daniel Cunningham