By Agence France-Presse
Hundreds of passengers aboard a ferry travelling from Britain to Spain were brought to France unharmed on Monday after a fire broke out on the ship before dawn, French maritime authorities said.
The Pont-Aven, operated by France’s Brittany Ferries, raised the alarm around 4.00 am (0200 GMT) when a fire was detected in one of the two engine rooms as it was off the coast of northwest France.
“The fire was quickly brought under control and there were no injured among the 766 passengers and 142 crew,” the regional maritime authorities said.
A French navy helicopter carrying firefighters and experts was dispatched to the vessel, travelling from the southern English port of Plymouth to Santander in northern Spain.
The ship was diverted under its own power to the city of Brest, where passengers disembarked on foot or in their vehicles.
“Nobody panicked,” said passenger Andrew Haydon from southwest England, adding he had heard a “horrible noise” before the fire alarm was sounded.
“It was a bit scary when we had to put on the life jackets,” he said.
Brittany Ferries said it was bringing passengers to another ship in nearby Roscoff to return to Plymouth, saying technicians were on their way to investigate the causes of the blaze.
On board were travellers from Britain, France, Spain, the United States, China and Poland.
The MV Pont-Aven, which can carry up to 2,400 passengers and 650 cars, is the largest vessel in the company’s fleet, measuring 184 metres (600 feet) in length.