Two young men were stuck up to their chests in mud before they were pulled free in Woodbridge tonight.

A large-scale search and rescue operation was launched after emergency services were alerted to the pair being stuck at around 9.45pm on Tuesday.

Coastguard, police, fire and ambulance teams all rushed to Quay Side and the police helicopter was also out searching with a spotlight trying to find them.

It is understood the two men were trying to row from Woodbridge down to Martlesham, but got stuck along the way. Residents were surprised at the large blue-light presence in the town late at night as it was not clear at first why they were there.

“It’s like something out of a film,” said Harry Renville, a barman at the nearby Anchor pub in Quay Side. “I’ve never seen anything like this before.

“Police car after police car and ambulances and fire engines.”

After the alarm was raised, fire crews from Woodbridge and Princes Street in Ipswich were sent to join the search, along with the coastguard.

“We were notified by the East of England Ambulance Service that there were two people who had tried to row from Woodbridge down to Martlesham and had got themselves stuck in mud there,” said a coastguard spokesman tonight.

He said it was around 1hr and 20mins after the call that the men were rescued. A helicopter eventually spotted them at around 10.40pm and they were pulled to safety.

A spokeswoman at Suffolk Constabulary’s control centre said it was not immediately clear whether the pair dialled 999 themselves or if someone had seen them.

“It says they were up to their chest in mud, but being looked over by ambulance staff,” she said.

Mr Renville said the emergency crews were all heading north on the road past the pub, which follows the railway line and goes further up the River Deben.