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Fire breaks out on cross-Channel Ferry Pride of Canterbury at Calais after leaving Dover

By Beth Robson

More than 450 people were evacuated from a cross-Channel ferry after the engine room caught fire.

The Pride of Canterbury was arriving in Calais around 8am when thick smoke started billowing through the decks.

The ferry had left Dover with 337 passengers and 119 crew and scores of French police and firefighters helped them onto the shore.

The fire broke out on the Pride of Canterbury ferry. Picture: Ed Sproston
The fire broke out on the Pride of Canterbury ferry. Picture: Ed Sproston

Truck driver Ed Sproston, 39, took photos of the thick toxic fumes which he said left him struggling for breath.

The dad-of-two, from Folkestone, Kent, said: "I was sitting upstairs talking to my kids on the phone when the captain came on the tannoy and said they had a 'slight problem with the starboard engine'.

"He said we were going to have a tug boat pull us into the port but then I just saw plumes of smoke coming out of the engine room.

P&O's Pride of Canterbury ferry.
P&O's Pride of Canterbury ferry.

"The alarm started going off and then they said they wanted to evacuate us all to the foot passengers exit.

"There were big plumes of smoke coming out and large pieces of ash were just falling from the sky."

He added: "It is lucky we weren't out at sea. I would have jumped out if I needed to but there were young children and babies on board.

"My lungs are still hurting now. You could smell the smoke and taste it as well. There wasn't anywhere near enough ventilation..." - Passenger Ed Sproston

"A lot of people were panicking and the crew were trying to calm them down but it was all a bit disorganised.

"My lungs are still hurting now. You could smell the smoke and taste it as well. There wasn't anywhere near enough ventilation."

Ed said the fire was blazing for "a good 20 minutes" before it was extinguished by the sprinklers.

P&O said the blaze started in the ship's engine room before it was put out by automatic sprinklers.

They said nobody was injured and an investigation would be carried out to find the cause of the fire.

A spokeswoman said: "The Pride of Canterbury had a fire in the engine room at around 8am as it arrived into Calais.

"It was extinguished by the ship's fire protection system i.e. the sprinklers. Nobody has been injured and the ship disembarked all the passengers safely.

The stricken ferry is expected to be out of service for at least a few days, and will be taken to Arno Shipyard in Dunkerque for repairs.

To make up for the missing ship, P&O said the Pride of Burgundy will increase its services from three to five, and passengers should check in as normal.

Video: Smoke billows from the Pride of Canterbury ferry


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