Ferry scare as lorry breaks free

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The Independent Online

A passenger ferry travelling from Scotland to Northern Ireland cut short its journey after a lorry onboard broke free and forced open the vessel's rear door.

The Clyde Coastguard said the lorry was hanging out of the rear of the ferry when it returned to the Scottish port of Stranraer last night.

The coastguard was alerted at approximately 9.20pm and while no one was injured in the incident, passengers said they became concerned after hearing a loud bang at the rear of the vessel.

The freight unit became lodged in the doors of the Stena Voyager ferry bound for Belfast and carrying 156 passengers and 33 crew, a spokesman for the ferry company confirmed.

A mobile crane was to be used to remove the stricken vehicle, after which passengers would be able to safely drive their cars off the vessel.

A Stena spokesman: "The ship was quickly stabilised and no one on board was injured."

The company said a full investigation would be launched into the incident.

The damaged vessel is to be brought to Belfast for repairs, while a separate ferry will be arranged to take passengers on their scheduled journey.

Watch Officer at the Clyde Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre Colin Lochhead said: "The lorry is currently hanging off the stern, which is preventing the ferry from docking with the link span.

"The Stranraer Port Authority will use a mobile crane to recover the lorry to enable the ferry to dock.

"Stranraer Coastguard Rescue team and the Stranraer RNLI lifeboat are currently standing by if assistance is needed."

He added: "There has been no danger to life and all appropriate authorities have been informed of the incident."

A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokeswoman said: "The lorry doesn't contain any dangerous goods. The mobile crane is on its way, but is not expected to arrive for several hours.

"All passengers are safe and well and are being made comfortable onboard."

Dumfries and Galloway Police said the lorry would be removed by crane later today, allowing the vessel to berth and the passengers and vehicles to disembark.

The lorry was a tanker carrying non-hazardous ferrous sulphate powder and none of the substance had leaked, police said.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has said there would be no danger to the public if the material escaped.