The discovery of a man's body in the River Itchen near Riverside Park led to a large-scale emergency service response to recover him.

Police were called at 9.21am yesterday (Saturday, 30 September) following the sad finding, and officers were swiftly dispatched to the park.

By just after 10am, the fire service and coastguard were also alerted to the incident.

Daily Echo:

Rachel Evans from Bitterne Park was there at the time. She said: "I was absolutely shocked. It all happened really quick; one minute there was only police and then it was packed with emergency services.

"It’s really sad as a body has been found."

READ MORE: Southampton: Body found in river at popular city park

The car park in Woodmill Lane was soon filled with a variety of emergency service vehicles, from search and response to coastguard vans, fire engines and ambulances.

The coastguard helicopter was also seen circling above the park.

Daily Echo:

Rob Gilmour, 55, was having a coffee in his back garden in Portswood Road when he saw the helicopter hovering over the Mansbridge area.

He immediately thought of his teenage grandaughter, who swims in the river.

He said: "I was gut-wrenched because I thought it could be her; that was my first concern. I was checking her Snapchat to make sure she was at home."

After making sure she was okay, Rob then headed down to the river to see what was happening and witnessed the recovery of the body.

Daily Echo:

According to him, two kayaks with emergency responders appeared and used an inflatable device to lift the body out of the water.

The man's body was then brought onto land a hundred yards away from River View Road, where a tent and privacy screens had been put up. An ambulance left the area shortly afterwards.

Rob said: "My first thoughts were for the man and his family. I felt so sorry for them."

As well as police, those involved in the response included coastguard rescue teams from Hillhead, Lymington and Portsmouth; a coastguard helicopter; the Hamble lifeboat; crews from St Mary's and Redbridge fire stations; the water rescue vehicle from Fareham and paramedics from South Central Ambulance Service.

Daily Echo:

Police say formal identification of the body has not yet taken place, and next of kin have not yet been informed. Officers are continuing to find this information out.

The incident has sparked sadness across the community, with many people taking to the Echo's Facebook page to share their well wishes with the man's family.

Karen Blake said: "So sad, heart felt condolences."

Kat Annells added: "Thoughts are with the man's family at this terrible time."

Joanne Grace said: "So sad. Thoughts with the deceased and their loved ones, and anyone else affected by this."

Daily Echo: The incident has reignited concerns about water safety in Riverside Park.

Margaret Richardson, 83, from Bitterne, said she 'saw about 12 police cars and a helicopter', which made her 'quite concerned'.

She added: "There are so many children feeding ducks around here.

"Someone could’ve easily slipped and fallen in the river.

"Having a body turn up is not the sort of thing you expect to happen round here."

Monica Cass, 71, from nearby Trent Road, Southampton, said she could hear the sirens earlier on this morning from her home.

She added: "I see a lot of swimmers at Riverside and I mentioned to my grandson that I get terribly worried someone will get their foot caught in the weeds.

"The river can be very dangerous and sometimes children in particular can forget that."