So I’m taking a ten-minute break this lunchtime, catching up with the newspapers (some dead-trees reading for a change) when I hear this loud ‘bang’ from outside along with people yelling.
"What on earth was that?" I said to my wife. I jump to the window – and there’s a car in the canal. And the driver’s still inside.
People running up and down the street, someone jumps into the canal and swims over to the rapidly-sinking car. I call 112, the emergency service, who say they’ve already had a dozen calls and help is on the way.
By the time I get my camera, the car’s almost disappeared under the water. The picture you see here is the end result – the police hoisting the car out of the canal, after the ambulance has taken the driver away (he lived, thank goodness), the divers have departed, the ambulance helicopter which landed in the main road across the way (and wasn’t needed in the end) has flown off, the TV crews have gone and most of the spectators lining both sides of the canal have melted away.
But what an hour-long drama – and how impressively speedily the Amsterdam police, ambulance and fire services arrived on the scene – within ten minutes of my hearing the bang and seeing the car in the canal – and sorting it all out.
I took quite a few photos with an Olympus 3030-Zoom 3.3 megapixel digital camera (yeah, I know, old hat resolution these days) using optical and digital zoom from my vantage point in my top-floor apartment, with the events happening in and across the canal some 150 meters away, and shooting into the sun.
Here’s the story (and see what you think of the photos):
Here’s how it all started – the car’s almost disappeared from view:
Ambulances have arrived, the police divers have got the driver out of the car and the firemen coming running to help get the driver onto dry land:
The medics carry out resuscitation (yes, they did do all the life-saving things needed: clearly the car’s driver nearly didn’t make it):
Thankfully, he appeared to be (relatively) ok as he was loaded into an ambulance which sped off to the major emergency hospital some 3 miles away towards Amstelveen in the suburbs south of here.
After that, there was a lot of waiting about as the emergency team figured out the best way to get the car out of the canal:
The police tow truck was the answer, as the first picture shows. And here’s the successful end result:
So, quite some excitement today! I took lots of photos of the police raising the car from the canal. Hmm, that might make an interesting Photo Story 3 compilation (if I do one, I’ll post it here).
All the pics you see here are quick improvements (a bit of sharpening here and there) to the ones I took, using Paint Shop Pro 8. If I’d just uploaded all the pics, this report would have been blogged at least 45 minutes earlier.
I’ve heard radio news already about this drama. Not seen it on local TV yet. So this blog report might be one of the first reports, especially in the English language.
This is your citizen reporter in Amsterdam, signing off for now.
Update 10-Jan: It’s just gone 4.30pm and the ambient light outside is now such that, from my high-up vantage point looking down, I think I can see how the car got into the canal.
Take a look at this photo I just took (click on it to see an enlarged image). You can just see, faintly, two tyre tracks across the grass leading away from you into the canal:
So I think the driver was either trying to park or he somehow lost control of his car and ran into the canal. Maybe the lost control idea is more likely as it looks like the car passed over the two boats you see, which are undamaged, so the car must have been travelling at some speed.
As you can see from the photo, this canal doesn’t have any kind of barrier. But, in this part of the city, that’s usually not necessary as the distance from road to canal edge is pretty long – unlike in the city center, in the old canal ring streets, where car to water’s edge is a couple of feet at most.