North Sea ferry blaze: Two arrested on Newscastle-Amsterdam boat as six people airlifted to hospital

The vessel - run by a Danish shipping company between North Shields and the Netherlands - had 946 passengers and 130 crew on board

A 26-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of arson after a fire broke out on a ferry carrying nearly 1,000 passengers from Newcastle to Amsterdam for New Year’s Eve.

The fire started at about 10.40pm on Saturday and resulted in an emergency airlift that saw four passengers and two crew members taken by helicopter to Scarborough hospital. Some 15 passengers and eight crew members were treated by doctors on board.

Humberside Police said that a 28-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of affray, in addition to the 26-year-old held over the arson allegation.

Many of the passengers were Britons planning to celebrate New Year’s Eve in the Netherlands. The ship was just 30 miles from shore when the emergency alarm sounded. 

Passenger Steven Basford, 28, said: “We were in our cabin at about 10.40pm when they raised the alarm with seven high-pitched siren noises. We were told to evacuate [to the] outside of the ship and when we got there they asked us to converge around the lifeboats.

“The fire was on our floor but on the other side of the ship. When we climbed up to the communal area we could see the smoke. It wasn’t thick but it was definitely noticeable. People were generally pretty calm. Obviously people had had a lot to drink. It’s a bit of a party boat. Two big blokes started brawling.”

Andrew Dixon, of Humberside Police, said the Maritime and Coastguard Agency had called them at about 11pm and had said that a passenger was “believed to have set fire to a cabin”.

“As a result of this incident, the person suspected of causing the fire, or the person from the cabin where the fire occurred – be it deliberate or accidental – has been detained by ship staff,” he added.

The fire was extinguished in around 15 minutes and the ferry returned to Newcastle.

Passengers described scenes of confusion and panic as they were called on deck and told to gather around lifeboats. “It was terrifying and I won’t be travelling by boat again. I think I will stay in the UK from now on, it’s a lot safer,” said Julie Bell, from Tyne and Wear. “It was like a scene from a movie, a chaotic mess, horrible.”

Karl McMurrough, 18, from Pennywell, Sunderland, said: “We all got rushed on to the deck, there were helicopters, kids squealing, life jackets. They were telling us to keep calm but they weren’t giving us any information.”

Passenger Steven Basford said: “We were in our room at about 10.40pm last night when they raised the general fire or emergency alarm with seven high pitched siren noises,” he said.

“The fire was on our floor but on the other side of the ship. When we climbed up to the communal area we could see the smoke. It wasn't thick but it was definitely noticeable.

“People were generally pretty calm. Obviously people had had a lot to drink. It's a bit of a party boat. Two big blokes started brawling.”

Gert Jakobsen, a spokesman for the ferry operator DFDS Seaways, said police were speaking to passengers on the ferry and the next ship would leave as scheduled today.

According to the DFDS Seaways website, the 26-year-old vessel has room for over 1,500 passengers and 600 cars. It was renovated in 2006.

It offers entertainment including restaurants, bars, a nightclub and a casino.

News
news

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney 'denied all knowledge' of the Twitter activity

News
Michael Buerk in the I'm A Celebrity jungle 2014
people
News
The author PD James, who died on 27 November 2014
people

Detective novelist who wrote Death comes to Pemberley passed away peacefully at her home, aged 94

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
tech
News
people
Life and Style
tech Manband spurn Spotify to stream album exclusively with Google
News
Irradiated turkey and freeze dried mash potato will be on the menu this thanksgiving
video
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: PHP Web Developer

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of web an...

Recruitment Genius: Class 1 Driver

£12 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Our Client has been the leader in the events...

Recruitment Genius: Finance and Office Administrator

£35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An award winning field marketing agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Part Time Telesales / Appointment Maker

£10000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A professional telesales/appoin...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?