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Police and ambulance crews called after Dover Seaways ferry hits harbour wall at Dover Eastern Docks as it left for Dunkirk

A ferry giant has apologised to all passengers affected after a ship hit a harbour wall.

A statement released by DFDS Seaways revealed a preliminary inspection had been carried out after the accident at 8am yesterday.

The ship, which had been sailing to Dunkirk, is now on its way to dry dock.

The statement added:"We expect the ship to be back in service in four – six days, but will verify timings once they have been confirmed.

A DFDS Seaways ferry at Dover Harbour
A DFDS Seaways ferry at Dover Harbour

"We would like to apologise to all passengers and freight customers for any inconvenience caused during this time and underline that the safety of all passengers and crew is of paramount importance to us at DFDS Seaways.

"We are working closely with all affected customers to assist with their queries and travel plans."

It comes after four people were taken to hospital and more were treated at the scene after the Dover Seaways passenger vessel ploughed into the harbour.

Keith Etherton, 54, and his wife Silvia, 51, were on their way to visit friends in Germany when the accident happened.

They were both thrown across the deck just moments after the ferry - carrying 320 passengers - started its journey.

Airport driver Keith said: "It was like Titanic hitting the iceberg because it crashed into the wall. There was only going to be one winner - and that was the wall."

It took around an hour-and-a-half for the couple to be allowed off the ship.

They then decided to take a Dover to Calais ferry before driving on to Germany.

Keith was left with an injured right shoulder and Silvia with a bruised leg.

He added: "I was on the rear part of the ship on the top deck and my wife was on another part of the deck. We had actually left four minutes earlier than expected.

"We hadn't even left the port when I was just thrown against a steel wall, I didn't know what had happened.

"My wife was really shaken up, she was thrown across the deck."

After speaking to several crew members, Keith said he was told the crash was due to a 'technical fault'.

The ferry is now berthed at the Eastern Docks and passengers and crew have been evacuated.

Another passenger tweeted to say a disabled woman had been knocked unconscious in the crash and that the ferry shop looked like it had been "ram-raided".

It was also reported that a pregnant woman and her children were thrown across the deck. Some passengers are thought to have suffered broken bones.

A Port of Dover spokesman said yesterday: "Port of Dover can confirm that an incident has occurred this morning involving Dover Seaways making contact with one of the harbour walls.

A witness said the ferry shop looked like it had been "ram-raided". Picture: @Kent_999s
A witness said the ferry shop looked like it had been "ram-raided". Picture: @Kent_999s

"Our first priority is to ensure safety of all those on board the vessel. Clearly we are very concerned for the well being of passengers and crew and we are supporting DFDS and emergency services in assessing any injuries to passengers and crew.

"The crew of the Dover Seaways and our own team immediately put emergency plans into practice to ensure the safety of those on board.

"The vessel, Dover Seaways, is safely berthed in the Eastern Docks. We praise all concerned for their swift response.

"I was just thrown against a steel wall, I didn't know what had happened. My wife was really shaken up, she was thrown across the deck..." - Passenger Keith Etherton

"Naturally the incident will be subject to our own internal investigation and that of the appropriate statutory authorities."

Emergency crews left the scene by midday and all passengers and crew have now evacuated the vessel.

A "small number" were treated at the scene by ambulance crews, and four more have been taken to hospital with injuries that are not thought to be serious.

A DFDS Seaways spokesman confirmed the crash involving its Dover Seaways ferry happened at 8am as it left the port for Dunkirk.

The spokesman added: "We would also like to praise the actions of our highly trained crew and all the relevant port and emergency services who worked effectively to contain the incident as safely and quickly as possible."

Those who chose to continue their journeys were put on other DFDS services. The ferry involved in the crash is being assessed for repairs.

Furniture was knocked over in the crash. Picture: @_bendy_
Furniture was knocked over in the crash. Picture: @_bendy_

A Kent Police spokesman said the force was aware of the incident, but that it was being dealt with by the port's police.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service said two fire engines were sent to help ambulance crews and Port of Dover Police at 8.40am.

The spokesman added: "Crews did not carry out any firefighting operations but remained on standby to assist paramedics and make the scene safe until control of the incident was passed to the ferry company."

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