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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 May 2007, 18:09 GMT 19:09 UK
Duke visits Cutty Sark wreckage
See an aerial image showing the extent of the damage

The Duke of Edinburgh has visited the wreckage of the Cutty Sark and branded the devastating fire a "bloody shame".

Forensic experts have begun examining the remains of the clipper to determine the cause of the Monday's blaze, which the prince was told was still unknown.

The duke has played a major role in supporting the restoration of the historic ship, which sits in a dry dock in Greenwich, south-east London.

Inquiries by police, who are treating the fire as suspicious, are continuing.

Water pumped out

The Metropolitan Police said officers would be studying CCTV footage from the area and speaking to witnesses.

The Cutty Sark Trust said its appeal for help to restore the ship had begun with two individual donations of 100,000 and 200,000.

Forensic scientists were allowed aboard the ship on Tuesday once the site was deemed safe for examinations and water was also being pumped out of the vessel.

The Duke of Edinburgh visiting the Cutty Sark
The Duke of Edinburgh is president of the Cutty Sark Trust

Chris Livett, chairman of restoration body Cutty Sark Enterprise, who showed the duke the damage caused by the fire said the prince was very concerned.

"He said it was a 'bloody shame'. He was quite shocked by the extent of it.

"He was shown the old entrance which was the way the public would have come through and he saw the investigation going on and the work going on around that."

Much of the ship, including the mast, the coach house and significant amounts of planking, had been removed before the fire as part of a conservation project.

Costs soar

Richard Doughty, chief executive of the Cutty Sark Trust, said: "We had a complete look around the ship and he (the prince) expressed relief that more of the original fabric had survived than he thought."

The prince, who helped form the Cutty Sark Society in 1951, accompanied the Queen when she opened the ship to the public in 1957 and last visited the attraction a year ago.

The trust has raised 18m towards a 25m restoration of the famous tea clipper, which was due to reopen to the public in November 2009.

However, the restoration costs will increase substantially following the blaze.

The trust said it still needs to examine the hull of the vessel to determine the extent of the damage.




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