Man remanded in custody after fire on ferry crossing

A man has been remanded in custody after more than £800,000 in damage was caused by a fire onboard a North Sea ferry.

Boden George Hughes, 26, of Fulwell Road, Sunderland, appeared before North Tyneside magistrates on Tuesday charged with arson reckless to endangering life and affray.

No pleas were entered and magistrates sent the case to Newcastle Crown Court, where he will appear on January 14.

Hughes was remanded in custody until then.

He is alleged to have started a fire on board the DFDS King Seaways ferry travelling from North Shields to Amsterdam on Saturday night.

A major rescue operation was put in place as the boat was forced to return to North Shields in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Six people were airlifted off the cruise ship by helicopters from RAF Leconfield and RAF Boulmer and taken to Scarborough hospital suffering from smoke inhalation.

A further 15 passengers and eight crew were treated on board, also for smoke inhalation.

A second man, aged 28, who was arrested for affray when the boat returned to port, has been bailed pending further enquiries.

The blaze broke out at about 10.45pm on Saturday with the ferry around 30 miles off Flamborough Head at the time as it made its way to Amsterdam.

A spokesperson for DFDS Seaways said: “The crew acted quickly to contain the fire, which was extinguished within 15 minutes.

“We can confirm that there were 946 passengers and 127 crew members onboard.

“Fifteen passengers and eight crew members are reported to have suffered from smoke-related injuries.

“They were checked by a doctor onboard, and two passengers and four crew members were taken ashore by helicopter for further medical assistance at a local hospital.”

The boat arrived back into North Shields at 4am on Sunday, but passengers did not begin to disembark until 9.30am.

The 26-year-old vessel has room for more than 1,500 passengers and 600 cars.

It was renovated in 2006, and the damage caused is estimated at £815,000.