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Man charged over fire on ferry

A 26-year-old man has been charged by police following a fire on board a North Sea ferry which sparked a dramatic emergency rescue by RAF helicopters.

Boden George Hughes, of Fulwell Road, Sunderland, has been charged with arson reckless to endangering life and affray, Northumbria Police said.

Hughes has been remanded in custody to appear at North Tyneside Magistrates' Court tomorrow morning.

He was arrested yesterday along with a 28 year-old man who was detained on suspicion of affray and later bailed pending further inquiries.

When passengers were eventually allowed off the King Seaways cruise ferry yesterday after it returned to North Shields, North Tyneside, some vowed never to sail again after their frightening experience.

The ship was heading for Amsterdam and a blaze started in a cabin when the vessel was around 30 miles off the North Yorkshire coast at around 10.45pm on Saturday night.

Two RAF helicopters scrambled to the scene and winched two passengers and four crew members to safety so they could have hospital treatment after breathing in smoke.

The ferry sailed back to Tyneside and most of the 946 passengers were allowed off yesterday morning while others remained on board to be interviewed by detectives.

Scuffles broke out during the emergency procedure among passengers, some of whom had been drinking heavily.

Passengers hugged family members in relief at the ferry terminal when they were finally allowed off, with some vowing never to sail again.

Julie Bell, from Washington, Tyne and Wear, said: " It was terrifying and I won't be travelling by boat again. I think I will stay in the UK from now on, it's a lot safer."

According to the DFDS Seaways website, the 26-year-old vessel has room for more than 1,500 passengers and 600 cars. It was renovated in 2006.

It offers entertainment including restaurants, bars, a nightclub and a casino.

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