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Last Updated: Saturday, 2 February 2008, 16:50 GMT
Ship ordeal for honeymoon couple
 Suzanne Carstensen
Suzanne Carstensen is hoping to return to Germany on Sunday
A honeymooning German couple were among seven people airlifted from a cargo ship after the vessel was hit by a huge wave off the Isles of Scilly.

Suzanne Carstensen, 50, said she thought she was going to die when the Horncliff was caught in the storm.

Her husband Dahne, 64, suffered a broken shoulder and ribs and he and the captain, who was also badly hurt, were airlifted to hospital.

The ship has now arrived at the Carrick Roads at Falmouth in Cornwall.

Surveyors from Falmouth are due to go and inspect the vessel, which lost 90 containers of fruit in the storm.

Mrs Carstensen said six passengers were on the bridge with the captain when violent waves struck the vessel 225 miles off the Isles of Scilly on Friday.

She said: "I thought it was our last moment of life."

It was really horrible and you cannot imagine unless you are there
Suzanne Carstensen

The Lithuanian skipper was injured and an attempt by a helicopter from RMB Chivenor in north Devon to airlift him off the vessel on Friday night had to be abandoned after it became too dangerous.

On Saturday morning, a helicopter from RNAS Culdrose in Cornwall was able to reach the ship which was by then 70 miles off Land's End.

The captain and the Carstensens, from Hamburg, were airlifted along with four others, one of whom had minor head injuries and severe bruising to her back.

"We had changed course to try to get away from the storm when the ship was hit by three big waves. First it went right over to the left and then to the right and we were all crying, " said Mrs Carstensen.

"The captain and my husband crashed on to the floor and the captain was crying out in pain.

"The ship went right over and then the containers came off the ship and it came back up. Then we knew we had survived.

"It was really horrible and you cannot imagine unless you are there."

Mrs Carstensen was uninjured and said the couple hope to leave the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro later on Saturday and fly home on Sunday.

The Horncliff heading for Falmouth: pictures courtesy of Royal Navy
The Horncliff was heading from Costa Rica to Dover

They got married in the summer and decided on going on the ship to see the Caribbean while on honeymoon.

She said that the ship also lost nine containers during a storm in the Azores but until then it had been a "lovely trip".

"My husband had been scared about being winched up but the man came down and he gave us all confidence," she said.

"Thank you the Royal Navy."

She also praised the crew of the ship and the "very brave captain" who remains in hospital in a serious condition with spinal injuries and internal bleeding.

Shipping warning

Falmouth coastguard said a warning had been given out to shipping in the south western approaches to be aware of the containers in the water.

"There is a danger from the containers but we don't know how many will sink or how many will float for a time," a spokesman said.

The ship, which had been travelling to Dover carrying the cargo of fruit from Costa Rica with 31 passengers and crew on board, is now sailing towards Falmouth and is expected to arrive later on Saturday.

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

Elsewhere in the UK, experts have boarded the Irish Sea ferry Riverdance which beached off Blackpool after helicopters and lifeboats rescued the crew and passengers on Thursday night.

No attempt to refloat the vessel is likely before Monday.



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