River Mersey ferry: Passengers rescued as vessel runs aground

Passengers being led to safety
Image caption Ambulance, fire and coastguard crews were at the scene

More than 70 people were rescued from a passenger ferry on the River Mersey when it ran aground.

They were taken from the Royal Iris ferry at 13:25 BST in the Queen Elizabeth II Dock in Eastham, Wirral.

The grounding caused a hole in the hull and the ship began to take on water, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (MFRS) said.

It added there were no reports of any injuries. Ambulance, fire and coastguard crews were at the scene.

The 69 passengers and five crew members were helped on to a dredger which was also used to pump water out of the ferry.

Image copyright Jonathan Whittaker
Image caption There were 69 passengers and five crew on board
Image caption Ambulance, fire and coastguard crews were at the scene

Mike Shinks, of Bolton, said he was on the day cruise from Seacombe, Wirral, along the Manchester Ship canal to Salford Quays.

He said as the vessel approached the entrance to the canal it waited for a dredger to come through from the locks.

"When the Royal Iris passed the dredger, there was a scraping noise and we were forced to weigh anchor," he said.

Image copyright Mike Shinks
Image caption Mike Shinks said he heard a scraping noise

"There was a lot of crew movement as they worked the anchor. A pilot boat pulled up alongside us. Then the ferry pulled up alongside the dredger and hooked itself on to it."

Mr Shinks said passengers were told by the ships' crew they thought the dredger had disturbed the sandbank and we had then hit the ground.

He added there was "no panic" as all the passengers moved from the Royal Iris on to the dredger.

Another passenger, Jonathan Whittaker, told the BBC that no one had been injured and people "were taking it in good spirits".

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