South Scotland

Lorries toppled after 'big dip' on Larne to Cairnryan ferry

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Media captionFootage filmed inside the ferry shows several lorries had toppled like dominos

A man caught up in a "major incident" on a ferry from Northern Ireland to Scotland has described how a "big dip" caused lorries to topple over.

Emergency services were called out to Cairnryan at about 07:40 after severe weather hit the service from Larne.

Lorry driver Niall Mcerlean said "all the wrecking took place" about halfway through the journey.

No-one was badly hurt but some people were stuck in vehicles. Police said the port would be shut for some time.

They said anyone planning on sailing should only travel "if absolutely necessary".

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch said it was "liaising closely" with those involved to determine the circumstances of the "cargo shift" on board the vessel.

Ferry operator P&O said its 16:30 sailing had been cancelled and it urged affected passengers to call 0800 130 0030 to arrange alternative travel.

Mr Mcerlean was on board when the alarm was raised.

He said: "We got on the ferry about half four and it was a wee bit rough and choppy coming along.

"About halfway across it sort of went into a big dip and came back out of it and that is when all the wrecking took place.

"After that the boat was sort of capsizing over a wee bit, leaning over a wee bit."

Image caption Cars were also damaged on board the ferry

Asked if he thought the ferry was going to topple over, Mr Mcerlean replied: "We thought she was away at that time."

He also said passengers were taken aback by the speed with which the incident unfolded.

Mr Mcerlean said: "It happened that quick that people didn't know what was taking place and everybody was nervous and afraid if we were going on over.

"There was a lot of panic going on."

Image caption Lorry driver Niall Mcerlean said there was panic on board the ferry

Mr Mcerlean said the sailing was the only one out of Northern Ireland last night.

He added: "I don't know why P&O sailed last night because it was giving out for a storm.

"Maybe they shouldn't have sailed."

In a statement, P&O Ferries said an incident had taken place on one of its vessels, the European Causeway.

"In extreme weather conditions, a number of vehicles have moved position on the decks causing damage onboard," it said.

"All passengers and crew are safely accounted for, there are no reports of injuries and the emergency services are in attendance."

Police Scotland said it had been called out after reports of a "number of vehicles" having overturned on the ferry.

They confirmed none of the 52 passengers and 56 crew had been seriously hurt.

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Media captionSeveral lorries are thought to have overturned on the ferry

Ch Insp Stephen Stiff said: "Emergency services were on the scene very quickly and as the ferry docked into Cairnryan staff were able to board the ferry and start making sure all passengers and crew were safe and well.

"Thankfully there have been very minor injuries only to a handful of passengers - there have been no significant injuries at all which is a blessing.

"Beyond that there will now be a recovery operation by the emergency services working together to make sure that the vehicles that have overturned on the decks can be righted and taken off in a proper and controlled fashion."

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service sent four fire engines to the scene to help while the Scottish Ambulance service sent five ambulances and crews checked passengers over.

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