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Marchioness disaster: Families gather on the banks of the Thames to mark 30th anniversary

The 30th anniversary of the Marchioness disaster was remembered in a vigil next to the River Thames on Monday night by survivors and the families of victims.

Fifty-one young people died when the pleasure boat Marchioness collided with a dredger and sank in central London in the early hours of August 20 1989.

Dozens of people joined a procession from Southwark Cathedral to Bankside, next to the site of the accident, where a short service was held. 

The names of those who died were read out and petals were thrown into the water.

Survivors and the families of the 51 people who were killed in the Marchioness disaster attended a vigil to mark the 30th anniversary on the banks of the Thames in London on Monday night. Pictured is a woman scattering petals into the water

 The Bishop of Southwark held a short service by the water and a list of all the victim's names was read out. The pleasure boat Marchioness collided with a dredger and sank in central London in the early hours of August 20 1989

Most of those on board the Marchioness, pictured is the wreck after the accident, were from the finance and fashion worlds

Boats from the Royal National Lifeboat Institute, the fire and rescue service and Port of London Authority gathered on the river for the crews to pay their respects.

Most of those on board the Marchioness were high flyers from the finance and fashion worlds.

Odette Penwarden, 72, of east London, spoke about how she survived the sinking.

'The dancing was in full swing when all of a sudden the boat lurched. The boat started to tip over. Water came rushing in and knocked me off my feet. It was like going inside a washing machine.

'I could feel myself losing consciousness, but I had an image of my mother and I decided I needed to get myself out.'

Ms Penwarden managed to escape through a broken window and was rescued by a police boat.

Dozens of people joined a procession from Southwark Cathedral to Bankside, next to the site of the accident, before pausing to listen to the service by the Bishop of Southwark

The pleasure boat Marchioness collided with a dredger and sank in central London in the early hours of August 20 1989, 30 years ago today. Pictured left and right are people during the procession from Southwark Cathedral

Survivor Odette Penwarden, now 72, of east London, said it took a couple of days 'to realise how many people had died, and that I had been so lucky to have survived' after the accident in 1989. Pictured are people throwing petals into the Thames

People lit candles and remembered their friends at the vigil. Andrew Dennis, 54, of north London, lost his brother and four friends in the disaster and expressed his 'disbelief' that boats and bridges on the Thames do not have more safety lights

She added: 'It took a couple of days for me to realise how many people had died, and that I had been so lucky to have survived.'

Andrew Dennis, 54, of north London, attended the service to remember his brother Howard and four friends who died in the tragedy.

He expressed his 'disbelief' that the boats and bridges on the Thames do not have more safety lights.

'It's so simple. It's not even 9 o'clock and already you can barely see.'

Following the death of his brother, Mr Dennis said he spent the following weeks in Paris.

Mr Dennis said there is a 'lovely companionship' among the relatives of the victims and the people who survived. Pictured are two women standing on the bank of the Thames near where the disaster happened during the vigil on Monday night

'Whilst I was up in the Eiffel Tower on New Year's Eve it saddened me to the core, you could literally see all the way down the River Seine because everything had luminous tubing on it.

'You think "why can't they put that on every bridge?".

'Thirty years ago, 51 people have died and it's still dark. You should be able to see all the arches of the bridges, all the outlines of the boats. That still riles me all these years later.'

Mr Dennis said there is a 'lovely companionship' among the relatives of the victims and the people who survived.

He added: 'There's nothing to explain because everyone is suffering the same.'

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