Panic as freak wave hits ferry

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The Independent Online
COPENHAGEN (Reuter) - A small high-speed ferry travelling between Denmark and Sweden was hit by a freak wave yesterday but all 260 passengers on board were unharmed despite early reports that it was sinking, rescue officials said.

The 324-tonne Cinderella 2 hydrofoil, carrying commuters and day-trippers across the narrow strait between Copenhagen and Malmo in southern Sweden, ran into trouble near the Danish shore.

'I was sitting in the third row, just where the waves came in,' a passenger said. 'It was frantic. There was water everywhere. People began screaming, and there was pandemonium. One person ran out on deck. He was completely panic-stricken. Parts of the ceiling fell on us. I'm soaked. We were completely covered in water.'

Huge waves whipped by sudden gusts of wind came crashing into the vessel, which sent out distress signals. Swedish radio had reported that the Cinderella was sinking.

'The front doors were punched in by heavy seas and we took in a bit of water,' the Cinderella's captain, Hasse Friberg, later told the TT Swedish news agency.

Mr Friberg said that the ferry soon made it into calm waters behind Flakfort, a small artificial islet at the mouth of Copenhagen harbour.