A ROW of canal and river boats were left sitting high and dry after a bizarre mechanical fault - which left a canal drained of water.

A number of boats were left stuck in the mud, or tipped partially on their side in the little remaining water, after the canal level dropped dramatically by almost two metres in just an hour and a half.

Bemused passengers were left sitting atop their stranded canal narrowboats, waiting for emergency services to come and rescue them from the muddy bog that was left behind.

The bizarre draining, at Kennet and Avon Canal in Bath, Somerset, happened around 5pm, due to a mechanical failure with the sluice gates at Twerton, Bath.

Crews from Avon Fire and Rescue attended the scene with their specialist water rescue unit, in order to stabilise the boats.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Canal & River Trust said: "The Canal & River Trust, and emergency services were on site to help as soon as we were made aware of the situation.

"We closed the waterway between locks 6 and 7, at 7pm.”

A message on the Canal & River Trust website yesterday read: "Please be advised that there is a mechanical failure of the Environment Agency sluice gates at Twerton.

"The water levels between lock 6, Weston Lock and Lock 7, Bath Bottom Lock are currently dropping rapidly.

"The Environment Agency have been informed and their engineers are on [the] way to [the] site however we are advising customers not to navigate.

"The emergency services are in attendance. If you are in immediate danger please contact 999."