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Collapse of car deck on ferry sailing from Portsmouth sparks probe

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INVESTIGATORS have begun trying to find out why a car ferry deck collapsed, injuring four people.

It comes after the mezzanine deck on the Portsmouth to Fishbourne Wightlink St Helen ferry dropped a few feet while cars were being lowered.

The incident happened when the Portsmouth-based firm’s ferry arrived at the Isle of Wight on Friday at 10.15pm.

Three passengers and a crew member were taken to St Mary’s Hospital on the island.

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency are now investigating the incident.

Operations director Elwyn Dop said: ‘We regularly carry our maintenance on all decks, they are tested as part of our schedule of maintenance.

‘A mezzanine deck has not descended to the level below in an uncontrolled way before.

‘The Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Marine Accident Investigation Branch saw the ship on Saturday and again on Sunday.’

The company said the ferry’s last independent engineering survey, including a look at its mezzanine decks, took place in May during an annual refit.

Mr Dop added it was too early to tell when the ferry will be back in service.

As reported on portsmouth.co.uk, the ferry was sailing from Gunwharf to Fishbourne with 181 passengers and 11 crew on board. The four injured people were conscious and breathing when they were taken to hospital. All four have since been released.

A spokesman for the Isle of Wight Ambulance Service said: ‘It is very fortunate that it was only four people injured, all things considered.’

The incident had a knock-on effect with delays and cancellations throughout the weekend.

Wightlink was due to put on two extra sailings today to cope with not having St Helen in service. See wightlink.co.uk for details of services.

 

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