THREE young boys had to rescued by firefighters when their boat became stranded in sinking mud last night.

The youngsters - believed to be 11, 12, and 13, were travelling in a dinghy on the River Itchen when they go into trouble close to Cobden Bridge at 7.30pm.

Firefighters were poised to launch water rescue operation with the Solent Coastguard after colleagues from St Mary's fire station were unable to reach them as their vessel began drifting downstream.

The youngsters eventually managed to grab hold of a boat close to the railway bridge further downstream before crews threw ropes to them and hauled them in.

They were wrapped in thermal blankets before being handed to ambulance crews to treat minor cuts to their hands.

Firefigter Neil Perry said: “We warn people to be aware of dangers on the river and make sure they wear life jackets when going out on the water.”