Twenty four injured as Waverley crashes into pier

Image source, Gavin Saxby
Image caption,
Eyewitnesses say the paddle steamer struck the pier

A total of 24 people have been injured after the paddle steamer Waverley collided with Brodick Pier in Arran.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said "a number have been taken to hospital" following the incident.

People stranded in Arran were later due to be returned to the mainland by an emergency sailing of a CalMac ferry.

Police, paramedics, coastguards and rescue helicopters were scrambled to the scene after the alarm was raised at about 17:15 on Thursday.

MCA said 213 passengers and 26 crew were on board the vessel when it struck the pier.

One passenger, Graham McWilliams, told BBC Scotland's The Nine about the moment of collision.

He said: "As we came into the pier, everything seemed quite normal.

"Then there was a sudden crash, a loud bang, and the boat stopped very quickly. I saw people falling and it was quite distressing."

Media caption,
Waverley crash: 'I saw one lady fly past the window'

He added: "There was a lady that I saw who literally flew past the window."

Mr McWilliams said that, several hours after the accident, passengers were still milling about the ferry terminal at Brodick.

He said it was unclear if they would be able to leave the island or whether accommodation could be found for them.

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson later tweeted to say arrangements had been made for CalMac to operate an emergency sailing to take the Waverley passengers back to the mainland.

'Far too fast'

Rita McLeod, who was waiting to board the Waverley, said she saw people being taken away in ambulances.

"We were actually queued up waiting to get in when it crashed," she said. "It came in bow first. It came in far too fast."

"We saw a lot of people falling, a few people fell over. There were people taken away in ambulances.

"We saw a lot of people, pretty badly shaken, coming off."

The ship was due to into Brodick at about 17.00 after leaving Greenock in the morning.

Image source, Anne Cochrane
Image caption,
A fire engine and other emergency services were visible from the terminal building

Another eyewitness saw the crash from the departure terminal as she waited to board.

Anne Cochrane from Bishopbriggs near Glasgow, said: "It just crashed into the pier when it was coming back from the Holy Isle. We're just stuck in the departure terminal. We've had no information."

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch has been informed of the incident.

Image source, Waverley Excursions
Image caption,
The Waverley has just returned to service after undergoing repairs

Two-year wait

The Waverley set sail for the first time in two years less than two weeks ago, an event which was itself delayed due to an "unexpected technical and administration issue".

The ship, described as the world's last seagoing paddle steamer, missed the 2019 season as it waited for urgent repairs.

A funding appeal was launched in June 2019 and it hit its target in December after receiving a £1m grant from the Scottish government to help with the restoration.

This paddle steamer, built by A & J Inglis of Glasgow and first launched in October 1946, has been involved in accidents before.

It struck the breakwater at Dunoon with 700 passengers on board, 12 of whom suffered minor injuries, in June 2009

In July 1977 it was badly damaged when it struck rocks near Dunoon.

In 2017, it was involved in another incident when it crashed into the pier at Rothesay.

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