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Last Updated: Monday, 4 February 2008, 16:09 GMT
Ferry rescue man feared for life
Nigel Bucknall
Doncaster lorry driver Nigel Bucknall feared he would die on the ferry
A lorry driver made an emotional phone call to his wife thinking he would die on a stricken ferry in the Irish Sea.

Nigel Bucknall said he called his wife Mary to tell her he loved her when he thought he had just 10 minutes to live.

But the Doncaster trucker was winched off the Riverdance ferry after it was hit by a freak wave causing it to list badly on Thursday night.

He was among one of 23 people rescued from the roll-on roll-off ferry which later ran aground off Blackpool coast.

'Terrible, mad situation'

Mr Bucknall said: "I phoned Mary up when I thought I were on my last 10 minutes and just told her I loved her and we were in a terrible, mad situation-type thing and the helicopters were on their way."

Salvage experts from Holland who are working on plans to move the ferry believe it could be at least another two days before weather conditions improve enough to allow try to start moving the vessel.

The stricken ferry Riverdance off Blackpool
The stricken ferry is listing at 50 degrees and losing cargo

The ferry, which is listing at about 50 degrees, is stuck fast on sand just off the shore. It could take a week to remove it.

In the meantime salvors hope to reduce its list by pumping water into the empty ballast tanks and removing the fuel from the ferry's tanks.

An exclusion zone of 400m is in place around the vessel and part of the esplanade has been closed.

Thousands of packets of biscuits being carried on board have been washed up on the shore.

Stabilising vessel

Tony Redding, a spokesman for Seatruck Ferries, said the team was doing "all it can during daylight hours" to make the vessel safe for salvors to work on.

"The plan is to take action today to stabilise the vessel and create a safer working environment, he added.

"The vessel currently has around a 50 degree list and part of creating that safer working environment will be to try to do something about that."

The Riverdance had been heading from Warrenpoint, County Down, to Heysham, Lancashire, when it was hit by a freak wave.

Nigel Bucknall remembers being rescued from Riverdance

New attempts to stabilise ferry
04 Feb 08 |  Lancashire
Ferry may be grounded for a week
03 Feb 08 |  Lancashire
Ferry sheds thousands of biscuits
02 Feb 08 |  Lancashire
Bad weather hampers ferry salvage
01 Feb 08 |  Lancashire
Ferry runs aground off Blackpool
01 Feb 08 |  Lancashire
High winds push trawler aground
01 Feb 08 |  Highlands and Islands

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