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Last Updated:  Sunday, 6 April, 2003, 14:23 GMT 15:23 UK
Ship leaves Channel fire scene
The Oriental Highway
The ship remained anchored off Eastbourne after the fire

A ship on which 20 cars were destroyed by a serious fire has moved on from the English Channel.

The fire broke out on board the 29,000 tonne Oriental Highway off the coast of Eastbourne, in East Sussex, just after 1000 BST on Friday.

Nine firefighters had to be flown out to the ship in a coastguard helicopter.

Nobody was injured in the fire, but Dover Coastguard said 20 cars had been written off and a number of others damaged.

Left for Europe

Solent Coastguard said on Sunday that the vessel, which was moored off the Sussex coast for more than 48 hours, had now left for Europe.

The Liberian-registered ship was heading from Germany to Portugal, carrying 484 cars and with a 21-strong crew, when the fire broke out.

A coastguard spokesman said the fire had started on deck seven of the ship, where the cargo had caught light.

Lifeboats from Hastings and Eastbourne went to the scene to pump water around the boat to cool the area surrounding it.

'Good safety record'

Another ship which was nearby in the Channel, the Sand Serin, drew alongside the Oriental Highway in case the crew had to be taken off the ship.

Firefighters managed to get the fire under control by about 1500 BST, using on-board firefighting equipment.

The fire crews stayed on board the ship for about another two hours to monitor the situation before returning to shore by lifeboat.

Maritime surveyors were expected to carry out an inspection on Saturday to ensure the vessel was seaworthy.

The Oriental Highway is owned by "K" Line, a unit of the Kawasaki group.

The Lloyd's List database of ships says the Oriental Highway had the capacity to carry more than 3,000 vehicles.

Spokesman David Osler said the vessel was built in 1980 and had a very good safety record with no reports of being detained by port authorities.




SEE ALSO:
Wreck to remain 'until autumn'
31 Jan 03  |  UK News
'There's a near miss every trip'
09 Jan 03  |  UK News


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