Baltic ferry ′stable′ after fire burns out | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 10.10.2010
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Baltic ferry 'stable' after fire burns out

The fire on board a Lithuanian ferry burnt out on Sunday. All 236 people on board were safely evacuated after the vessel caught fire early on Saturday en route from the German port of Kiel to Klaipeda in Lithuania.

The Lisco Gloria ablaze

The blaze may have started in a truck in the ship's hold

The temperature of the blaze on the passenger and cargo ferry reached an estimated 300 degrees Celsius at its peak, but the situation was brought under control on Sunday.

"The ship is anchored and in a stable position," the rescue commander said.

The fire completely destroyed the bridge and cabins on the 8-year-old vessel, and burnt a hole measuring eight square meters into the side of the ferry.

The blaze was apparently caused by a series of explosions early on Saturday. Officials said a fire on a truck in the hold of the ferry was the possible source of the fire. German officials ruled out the possibility of a terrorist attack.

Everyone safely brought to shore

All 236 passengers on board the Lisco Gloria passenger and freight ferry were evacuated. Twenty-eight people were injured, mostly from smoke inhalation. The Deutschland ferry picked up many of the rescued people from life boats, and brought them to safety in Kiel.

"I've never seen a ship burn like that," said Eugen Kube, captain of the Deutschland.

Rescuers with teddy bears

Rescuers acted quickly to evacuate all 236 passengers

Most of the passengers were asleep when the alarms sounded at around midnight. A crew member had noticed smoke coming from the truck while making an inspection round. He apparently tried to put the blaze out himself, before alerting the captain.

"We were very scared," said Edmundas, a 29-year-old lorry driver. "There was a fire, and it was dark and cold. Who knows what would have happened if we had slept just a few minutes longer."

The ship was carrying about 200 tons of heavy oil, along with 18 tons of diesel fuel and 25 tons of motor oil. The head of the rescue operation said no oil has spilled from the ship.

Rescuers said it was unlikely that the sink would capsize completely. The vessel is anchored about 4 kilometers south of the Danish island of Langeland.

"The situation looks stable," said Dirk Reichenbach, the German head of rescue operations.

Two passengers remained in hospital on Sunday. Most of the other passengers, from Germany, Denmark, Lithuania, Latvia, Argentina and Russia, have now departed for home.

Author: Joanna Impey (AP/dpa)
Editor: Sarah Harman

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