IT looks like the scene of a terrifying accident, as rescue workers struggle to remove a crumpled car from the icy clutches of the Water of Leith.
The overturned vehicle was discovered yesterday morning, sparking immediate concerns that someone had been seriously injured.
But after emergency workers reached the vehicle they discovered the car was empty – except for a large green axe found wedged between the accelerator and the front seat,
It appeared the axe had been rigged to cause the driverless car to career off the bank, near Connaught Place, and flip onto its roof yesterday morning.
Firefighters waded into the waterway to assist with the recovery and were seen removing the axe from the front footwell of the vehicle.
The driver was nowhere to be seen when the police arrived just after 8.30am after a resident raised the alarm. And officers are now working to establish exactly who was behind the bizarre crash, which residents warned could have seriously injured anyone using the often busy public path.
The fire service was initially stood down after they confirmed that no-one was in the car, but they returned to the scene in the afternoon to assist the recovery workers by securing cables through the damaged car.
Neighbours crowded the banks to watch as rescue workers struggled to bring the vehicle onto dry land, finally succeeding at around 4pm.
Local resident Lynne McCoach, said: “I was out picking up my grandson this morning and when I came back there were police everywhere. I thought somebody had been murdered or something. I never heard a thing and I am a light sleeper.”
The 52-year-old said: “I was told it came down into the river early in the morning. If it had been later then someone could have been killed as lots of people walk along that path.”
Mum-of-two Gemma Cameron, 26, who lives beside the river, said: “It’s lucky no one was hurt.
“It’s so quiet around here, that’s why everyone is out having a look.”
Another local resident, who declined to be named, said: “The alarm was raised when the car hit the wall on the other side this morning. With the wind and the sound of the water, it was no wonder most of us didn’t hear it hit the waterway.”
A female neighbour, who also wished to remain anonymous, said: “We heard loads of sirens this morning.
“We knew there was something different about this as there were just so many.
“There are tyre tracks right through the grass but you can only guess what happened.”
Police were not able confirm whether or not the car had been stolen.
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said yesterday: “No one was found in the vehicle, which is being removed from the water by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
“Enquiries are underway to establish the full circumstances surrounding this incident are ongoing.”
A police cordon was initially erected but it was taken down during the day.