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Last Updated: Saturday, 2 February 2008, 12:37 GMT
Injured captain winched off ship
The Horncliff heading for Falmouth: pictures courtesy of Royal Navy
The vessel is heading for Falmouth

A cargo ship captain who was seriously injured in a force 10 gale off the Isles of Scilly is in hospital after being rescued by helicopter.

The aircraft lifted six other people from the ship 70 miles off Land's End. Two of them had less serious injuries.

The three are believed to have been hurt when a giant wave hit the vessel and the cargo shifted.

Rescue attempts had to be abandoned overnight because of the extreme weather conditions and darkness.

After Saturday's successful mission, Chief Petty Officer Dave Rigg said: "We pitched up on scene. I got lowered down on to the deck, went in, assessed the three casualties first.

"They were all fairly stable so whilst I was doing that I called for my colleague from the Ambulance Service.

"He then assisted me getting them into the stretcher - we then got the casualties into the aircraft and made our way back."

Chief Petty officer Dave Rigg
Chief Petty Officer Rigg said it was frightening for the passengers

He said the injured people told him they were hurt when a violent wave hit the boat.

"The cargo then shifted and bounced them across the bridge hitting obstacles, obstructions and each other, it was pretty frightening for them."

He said four uninjured people had been taken to a hotel.

Two of them, German tourists on their honeymoon, told the BBC it was very frightening.

The said it was good to be on dry land and described it as a "very special honeymoon".

The ship is now sailing towards Falmouth and is expected to arrive later on Saturday.

Henry Purbrick from Falmouth Coastguard said: "The coastguard tug has been tasked to go and stand by and escort them in.

"They will be anchored out side Falmouth because they've only got one anchor - they've lost an anchor at some stage.

"Then surveyors from Falmouth will go and survey the vessel and decide where they go from there."

'Pitch black'

During the first rescue attempt, a helicopter hovered over the ship for nearly an hour.

Map showing Falmouth and Isles of Scilly

Flt Lt Jonathan Singh, the captain of the helicopter, said the conditions were "horrendous".

"It's obviously pitch black out there, it's extremely dark with no sort of cultural lighting at all at that distance from land," he said.

There were 31 passengers and crew on board the ship, the Horncliff, which had been travelling to Dover carrying a cargo of fruit from Costa Rica.

Falmouth Coastguard said the vessel, which lost about 90 containers of fruit in the storm, had suffered some damage and was listing slightly.

The Horncliff, a 12,887-tonne cargo ship which is flying the Liberian flag, was built in 1992.

Power cuts

Elsewhere in the UK the extreme weather conditions have left thousands of homes without power and caused chaos on the roads.

Blizzards swept across Scotland and northern England on Friday and winds reached 80 mph bringing down many trees.

The A66 in County Durham has now reopened after heavy snow trapped 200 drivers and passengers who had to be rescued.

About 1,600 homes remain without power in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

Experts have boarded the Irish Sea ferry Riverdance which beached off Blackpool after helicopters and lifeboats rescued the crew and passengers.

Fourteen crewmen were also flown to safety after their trawler, The Spinning Dale, was pushed into rocks off St Kilda in the Western Isles on Friday.



SEE ALSO
Battle to restore power to homes
02 Feb 08 |  North Yorkshire
Island fears over 'trawler rats'
02 Feb 08 |  Highlands and Islands

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