Passenger from Sunderland arrested over North Sea ferry fire charged with arson

The Northern Echo: The DFDS Seaways ferry King Seaways The DFDS Seaways ferry King Seaways

A MAN arrested on suspicion of starting a fire on board a North Sea ferry was tonight (Monday December 30) charged with arson.

Boden George Hughes is accused of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered and affray.

The 26-year-old, of Fulwell Road, Sunderland, was remanded in custody and will appear before North Tyneside magistrates in North Shields tomorrow (Tuesday December 31).

He was one of two people detained in the aftermath of the cabin blaze which led to the Amsterdam-bound DFDS King Seaways ferry halting in the North Sea and returning to the Port of Tyne, at North Shields.

A second man, aged 28, who was arrested for affray, has been bailed pending further inquiries.

Police arrested the pair as part of the investigation after the blaze damaged a cabin on the fifth floor, an accommodation deck of the 30,000-tonne vessel.

It led to the Amsterdam-bound ferry halting in the North Sea, five hours into Saturday evening’s voyage, 30 miles off the east Yorkshire coast at Flamborough Head, before the decision was taken to return to port on the Tyne.

Crew members managed to extinguish the blaze, but two were among six people, including a pregnant woman, airlifted from the DFDS vessel and taken to hospital in Scarborough as a precaution amid fears of smoke inhalation.

All were later released without the need for further treatment.

A further 17 received treatment on board by doctors on the King Seaways.

Most of the other 946 passengers remained on board the ferry overnight on Sunday to Monday in port at North Shields, but many took up the option of being given free transport to Hull to take another Dutch-bound ferry from the Humber today (Monday December 30).

It has subsequently emerged that apart from the blaze, crew members had to intervene to break-up a drunken brawl between passengers who had been drinking in the hours after the King Seaways left the Tyne, at 5pm on Saturday.

DFDS representative Gert Jakobsen said crew members receive regular training in dealing with all such situations, but added that they were “rare”.

“When we have so many people together in one place these things are unavoidable.

“Our crew are well trained. They train every week in case these things happen.”

Earlier, the company’s senior vice-president, Karsten Jensen, said while safety was always paramount, communication with passengers in case of such incidents would be reviewed as part of the de-brief following the weekend drama.

Meanwhile the King Seaways was last night being prepared to make its first departure bound for Ijmuiden, near Amsterdam, since the fire incident.

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