Isle of Man holiday plans are thrown into chaos after ferry smashes into pier at Douglas
Sailings from Belfast to the Isle of Man have been hit after a high speed catamaran ferry crashed into a pier at the island's capital, Douglas.
The accident has scuppered plans for anyone sailing from Belfast to the island for an Easter break.
Five people were injured when the vessel Manannan slammed into the port's Victoria Pier just before 11pm on Wednesday, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company said.
The injured passengers were taken to hospital, after receiving initial treatment on board the ship, the company said in a statement.
The ferry operators said they believed that a "systems control failure" led to the crash.
The incident has disrupted sailings to the island in the Irish Sea, just as the lucrative tourism season gets under way with the Easter Festival of Running starting yesterday.
The ship - which was arriving from Liverpool - hit the pier as it manoeuvred into the port.
Rebecca Moy, a 20-year-old student from Douglas, was onboard the Manannan when it crashed into the dock.
She was returning home for the holidays from John Moores University in Liverpool.
She told the Isle of Man Today website that there was panic and screaming on board the ferry when it hit the port's sea wall.
"An hour in, with no signal, me and my friend looked at each other in panic after feeling heavy vibrations on board. We were told by the captain that there was trouble with the stabilisers and that the engineer had overridden the problem.
"The Manannan slowed down but then the same vibrations happened three more times - rather worrying.
"Finally we could see Douglas and the overall feeling onboard was more relaxed then - we were making jokes, saying we should have listened carefully to the safety instructions."
She added: "Ten minutes later, a voice that wasn't the captain suddenly said: "Passenger announcement: brace, brace, brace.
'We thought somebody had got hold of the tannoy as a joke, but five seconds later there was a heavy shudder and vibration.
"Children on board were screaming and doors slamming, then we saw the contents of the whole fridge were lying on the floor. After the 10 seconds of panic people seemed to be making a joke of the incident, ringing their family and friends, who could apparently hear the crash from the terminal."
"I didn't see anybody injured on board, we were just shocked," she added.
None of the passengers was seriously injured, but the ship sustained major damage to its bow. It is not the first time that the Manannan has been damaged.
Last year, more than £100,000 of damage was caused by the vessel hitting what was described as sea debris.
Anyone with bookings with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company should check with the firm about replacement services.