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August 13, 2011

David Cameron responds to rioting, promises changes on policing

David Cameron responds to rioting, promises changes on policing

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

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Metropolitan Police in Lewisham preparing for the riots.
Image: Stuart Bannocks.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has stated that a change in police strategy is appropriate following what many feel to be an inadequate response to the rioting that has overrun many cities across England. Riots started in Tottenham on Saturday night after the fatal shooting by police of Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old taxi driver who the Independent Police Complaints Commission state was in possession of a handgun, but did not fire it.

During the Parliamentary debate on the riots, David Milliband, the Labour leader, called on Cameron to reconsider cuts to police budgets. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne described the communities where the rioting occurred as being “left behind” and “cut-off from the economic life-blood of the rest of the country”, and called for solutions to the “deep-seated social problems”

One avenue the Prime Minister is said to be considering is changing regulations on social media services like Twitter, Facebook and BlackBerry Messenger, the latter being used to communicate between groups of rioters. The Open Rights Group and Big Brother Watch came out in opposition to any plans to restrict communication using social media, with Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group warning that such regulation would be abused by the police and private companies.

In Southampton, England, three people were arrested by police for the suspicion of using Twitter or BlackBerry Messenger to encourage the rioting. The government is “working with the police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these Web sites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality,” said Cameron.

The Prime Minister also announced that he would consider using the army to support the police in controlling future rioting, and also that he would consult with William J. Bratton, CBE, who had been the chief of police in Los Angeles and a police commissioner in New York City and Boston. Bratton is quoted as saying that arrests are not the only way to solve societal problems which lead to rioting and unrest: “You can’t arrest your way out of the problem.”



Related news

  • “Three killed amongst Birmingham, England riots” — Wikinews, August 12, 2011
  • “Riots in England continue for a fourth night” — Wikinews, August 10, 2011
  • “Rioting develops throughout England” — Wikinews, August 9, 2011

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November 24, 2010

UK students protest for second time this month

UK students protest for second time this month

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

At least three hundred students gathered outside the gates of Cardiff University.

Mass-walkouts took place today in cities throughout the United Kingdom, as students campaigned against rising tuition fees and government cuts.

Protests took place for the second time in as many weeks in places such as Aberystwyth, Cambridge, Southampton, Liverpool, and Brighton. Events included a ‘study-in’ at the Edinburgh Liberal Democrat headquarters, a 10am protest in Trafalgar Square attended by thousands, and a ‘dress in red’ march in Manchester.

In Cardiff, at least a hundred students rallied outside the main gates of Cardiff University‘s main building, in an event organised by a group named Actions Against Cuts Cardiff, with the support of a member of the National Union of Students executive committee. Occupations of university buildings have also begun in Birmingham, Plymouth, and the Royal Holloway.

In London, students are infuriated by what they say is London South Bank University‘s decision to ban anti-cut related meetings from their campus earlier this month. One student described it as “undemocratic and scandalous” as, according to the students, they were forced out of their booked room by security guards, and prevented from partaking on any on-campus meetings — but South Bank University maintains that it was a “misunderstanding” due to a double-booked room. Dr. Phil Cardew, Pro Vice-Chancellor of LSBU, maintained that “freedom of speech lies at the very heart of the higher education community whether it is academic, political or social debate”, and that “the students were encouraged to continue their discussions in the Students Union”.

A police van was vandalised in Trafalgar Square.

Not all the demonstrations were peaceful. Central London saw two officers injured as the police attempted to hold back the protesters, a police van attacked and vandalised, and three arrests were made. Police, keen to make sure that the 30 Millbank occupation was not repeated, were out in force, clashing with students in Cambridge, where two arrests were made, and kettling protesters of up to a thousand, according to protest organisers, as dusk approached.

The group that organised the protests, the “National Campaign Against Fees And Cuts” (NCAFAC), told students in the run-up to the protests to not “be afraid of blocking traffic if you have enough people”. On their blog, they stated that “[they] would like to see university students planning to march around their campus, bursting into lecture theatres and spreading the word”, a move that would breach many University codes of conduct. When contacted by Wikinews, the group did not respond to requests for clarification.

Universities are facing more than £900m ($1.4bn) cuts in the next three years. This protest comes as, earlier this month, 50,000 students and lecturers took to the streets in a National Union of Students organised rally, which culminated in the violent occupation of the Conservative Party campaign headquarters at 30 Millbank. In Westminster, a student suspected of throwing a fire extinguisher off the headquarters’ roof pleaded guilty in court today, under the charge of violent disorder, and will appear in Southwark Crown Court at a later date for sentencing, the maximum of which is five years imprisonment. Some protesters involved in the 30 Millbank occupation led an ‘energising meeting’ in Cardiff yesterday, prior to today’s demonstration.

Many students do not understand the reasoning behind the cuts. The Trotskyist student group, Cardiff University Socialist Students, wonder why, compared to the “£120 billion the government throws away every year on evaded, avoided and uncollected taxes”, the “few billion” required to pay tuition fees is “tiny”. The group also advocates cutting the Trident nuclear deterrent in order to pay for fees, and wonder why the vice-chancellor of the university was awarded a 4% pay rise (to £275k p.a.) compared to last year, whilst during the economic recession.

Last week, three hundred sixth-formers marched in Finchley, Margaret Thatcher’s old constituency, throwing shirts at the local Tory headquarters, echoing the phrase “They ripped the shirts of our backs”. Lower income college students are hit badly by the budget cuts, as plans to abolish Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA), the up-to £30 a week subsidy for 16-19 year-old full-time students with household incomes of £30,810 or less.

The protests were primarily organised on the popular social networking site, Facebook. One Facebook user said earlier this week that the protests were “a perfect opportunity for students to show how disappointed we are with Nick Clegg”, who was advised by security officers earlier to desist from cycling from his home in Putney to Downing Street over fears that he could be pounced upon by angry students en route.



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July 19, 2010

One dead after bus and bicycle crash in Hampshire, England

One dead after bus and bicycle crash in Hampshire, England

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Monday, July 19, 2010

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Map of England with Hampshire highlighted in red.
Image: Wereon.

A person has died after being involved in a collision between a bus and a bicycle in Hampshire in the south of England, United Kingdom. The woman, who has not been publicly identified, was cycling in the seaside resort of Southsea when a number 700 Stagecoach single-decker bus, which was travelling from Brighton to Southsea, collided with her bicycle at approximately 1315 BST (1215 UTC) on Saturday. A helicopter transported the woman to Southampton General Hospital, where she died at approximately 1630 BST (1530 UTC) on the same day.

None of the occupants of the bus were injured. The 53-year-old bus driver has now been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. Hampshire Constabulary is requesting any witnesses to the accident to contact them. PC Phil Hunt also mentioned: “We are also trying to trace the passengers, who left the scene before we could speak to them.”

The road traffic accident occurred in an area where Portsmouth City Council had been intending to place a new cycle route, but the plans to do so were cancelled last week. The plans, which would have cost £250,000 (US$382,373, 296,481, A$441,126), were said to have been cancelled due to financial difficulties.

Portsmouth Cycle Forum vice chair Jon Spencer has stated: “Sadly, we’ve had to wait less than a week for a brutal illustration of why we need this cycle route.” The vice chair of the local cycling group continued: “The road at Clarence Pier is very narrow, very crowded by parked cars and very busy. It is the most popular part of the seafront but at the moment it is a no-go area for cyclists. The city council are obviously happy for this to remain the case.”

Cquote1.svg This terrible accident is yet another reminder that large vehicles, busy traffic and cyclists are not a happy mix. Cquote2.svg

—John Holland

John Holland, the chair of the Forum, wrote on PompeyBUG, a local cycling Internet forum: “Portsmouth Cycle Forum is very sad to learn of the death in a road accident of a woman cyclist at Clarence Esplanade on Saturday 17 July. Our thoughts lie with her family and friends to whom send our deepest condolences. The cyclist was involved in collision with a bus in the vicinity of Pier Road and Clarence Esplanade, close to Clarence Pier.

“This terrible accident is yet another reminder that large vehicles, busy traffic and cyclists are not a happy mix. Whilst it will be some time before the details are made public, we urge the Portsmouth City Council to press ahead with making this section of our seafront much safer and calmer for all. Almost exactly one year ago, a cyclist was seriously injured Clarence Esplanade when a car reversed blindly from a parking bay into the road.

“Portsmouth City Council is on the verge of postponing Phase 2 of the Southsea Seafront Cycle Route. Had this been in place yesterday then this awful incident might have been avoided. We urge councillors to think again. A safe and segregated cycle route can be built – one which doesn’t loose any car parking, one which doesn’t stop people looking out to sea from their cars, one which doesn’t involve cycling on the promenade. We will be pushing hard for this – we don’t want any more injuries and fatalities on our seafront roads.”



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April 1, 2008

Media round-up: April Fools\’ Day 2008

Media round-up: April Fools’ Day 2008 – Wikinews, the free news source

Media round-up: April Fools’ Day 2008

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

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Many media outlets traditionally deliberately spread hoaxes on April Fools’ Day, including notable quality sources such as National Geographic and Science.

Presidents Sarkozy and Bush were victims of April Fools’ Day stories.

The popular British tabloid The Sun wrote that French President Nicolas Sarkozy is to undergo stretch surgery to make him taller than his wife, Italian artist and model Carla Bruni. The report claimed the 5 foot 5 inch leader would be made 5 inches taller in one year using a method by Israeli professor Ura Schmuck. The Sun noted that during his visit to Britain last week, Sarkozy had high-heel shoes while his wife wore a pair of flat pumps.

The Guardian on the other hand ran an article that suggested that Carla would head an initiative by Prime Minister Gordon Brown to bring more glamour, good taste and sophistication to the U.K. general population. This would involve collaboration with Marks & Spencer for high-street fashion and Jamie Oliver for meals and wine.

BBC News had real-looking footage of flying penguins fronted by documentary host Terry Jones, which were actually an advertisement for its new iPlayer.

Google and Virgin

U.S. dollar notes.

In an annual tradition, Internet company Google launched several new services for the occasion of April 1. Project Virgle is a mock-up Virgin Galactic and Google ‘open source’ collaboration for a human colony on Mars. Google’s mail service Gmail introduced a service called Custom TimeTM which allows its users to send e-mails into the past, so that you never miss another deadline. But the application can only be used 10 times, because “Our researchers have concluded that allowing each person more than ten pre-dated emails per year would cause people to lose faith in the accuracy of time, thus rendering the feature useless.,” followed by a scientific formula supposedly proving this.

Virgin Media on the other hand announced that the United States would scrap the dollar and join the Euro in a response to the currency’s recent devaluation. The Herald Sun wrote an article about a new Virgin Blue ‘No Chair Fare’, for cheap flights without a seat. Flights longer than two hours would come with a free calf massage. The Australian chapter of Google announced an artificial intelligence application that allows you to search tomorrow’s websites, while Google China presented a Grassroots Search option, powered by real humans.

Science and technology news

Painting of Francis of Assisi by El Greco.

The journal Science announced that “U.S. President George W. Bush has announced a dramatic shift in his attitude toward science.” They ‘quote’ the President: “Let’s finally rid our bodies of this weapon of mass destruction.” According to the scientific magazine, Bush would also become a supporter of stem cell research and greenhouse gas reduction targets: “In retrospect, having oil industry lobbyists edit our climate reports was probably a bad idea.”

National Geographic worked together with the Harvard Lampoon to create a cover showing Paris Hilton on an issue of the magazine dedicated to wild animals.

Computer company ThinkGeek spread a story about a machine that could convert Betamax videos into HD-DVD.

In a parody of recent allegations against Wikipedia’s founder Jimmy Wales, British technology news site The Register announced that he would give up his position at the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikia to join a brotherhood of Franciscan Friars. “There are more important things than power, fame, venture capital, $95,000 speaking fees, and having sex with the Canadian Ann Coulter,” their tongue-in-cheek quote reads. As a monk, Wales is alleged to devote his life to the sum of all human knowledge… on stone tablets, under the form of Stonetabletopedia.

Incredible… but true

Apple I, the first and hand made Apple computer, at the Smithsonian Museum.
Image: rebelpilot.

Wikipedia traditionally turns its main page into a collection of amazing-but-true facts. For example, it explains what the presidents of Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan had to say about KDE2 patches under FreeBSD, and how two college drop-outs “co-founded what is now Apple Inc. to sell their handicrafts”. The main page also showed an alternative biography of Houston philanthropist Ima Hogg.

Although some readers objected to this humorous make-over, others pointed out that all claims were genuine whereas other encyclopaedias have been known to list fictitious entries.

Several newspapers also brought stories that seem incredible, but are true: the Daily Mail for example reports that T’ai Chi has been found to improve diabetes, and that Southampton Crematorium is launching an on-line grieving service that allows you to mourn from home. The Sun notes that a new collagen injection is aimed at enlarging the female G-spot to improve orgasms, while The Express notes that school desk sizes will be updated in view of the increasing number of obese children.



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March 27, 2008

Airbus parent EADS wins £13 billion UK RAF airtanker contract

Airbus parent EADS wins £13 billion UK RAF airtanker contract

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

An existing RAF Tristar aircraft

European Aeronautic Defence & Space NV (EADS), the parent company of European airframer Airbus, has won a £13 billion contract to supply the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force (RAF) with aerial refueling tankers to replace the nation’s current ageing fleet.

AirTanker Ltd., an EADS-led consortium, have signed a 27-year contract with the Defense Ministry to supply 14 new Airbus A330-200 passenger airliner converted for the task. They will be owned by AirTanker, who retains commercial leasing rights to five which can carry 290 passengers plus cargo, but will fly in RAF livery. They replace existing Lockheed Tristar and Vickers VC-10 aircraft. The first aircraft will be in service by 2011 and all by 2016.

Rolls-Royce, part of the consortium, will supply engines. France’s Thales will supply electronics, Wimborne, UK’s Cobham will manufacture refueling equipment and Southampton, UK’s VT Group will provide service management.

Last month, Northrop Grumman and EADS defeated Boeing to win a massive order for 179 tankers from the United States Air Force. Airbus has also inked recent deals with the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal Saudi Air Force and the UAE Air Force.



Related news

  • “Northrop Grumman and Airbus parent EADS defeat Boeing for $40 billion US airtanker contract” — Wikinews, March 1, 2008

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March 4, 2008

British university falls short of Smurf gathering world record

British university falls short of Smurf gathering world record

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

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290 Smurfs during a previous record in San Francisco in May 2006.
Image: Jesse Hull.

Despite two months of preparation, a Smurf party held by the University of Southampton’s student union ended without a record. While 720 came to The Cube nightclub in blue bodypaint, and with a white hat and pants, they missed the mark by 164 people.

On February 18, Chester University attracted 884 students to their event, but newspapers and organizers apparently overlooked this record attempt. It generally takes a few months for the Guinness World Record organization to formally acknowledge achievements as being official.

The Southampton event was to raise cash for the Prince’s Trust’s “World Wealth Creation Challenge”. The competition pits ten United Kingdom universities against each other, to raise as much money between November 2007 and March 2008.

The previous record of 451 people was set by Warwick University in 2007.

While The Smurfs television series made the characters known in the English-speaking world, when it debuted in the 1980s, they actually began 50 years ago in the Belgian comics magazine Le Journal de Spirou.



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February 28, 2008

Claims from British quake may run into \”low tens of millions of pounds\” – Insurance association reps

Claims from British quake may run into “low tens of millions of pounds” – Insurance association reps

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Thursday, February 28, 2008

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The epicentre of the quake according to USGS
Image: NASA Worldwind.

Representatives from the British insurance industry have said that the cost of the earthquake which hit Britain early yesterday could be over 10 million GBP. The Association of British Insurers has said in a statement that the cost for the earthquake is “likely to run into the low tens of millions of pounds.”

The Senior claims manager at the UK bank Norwich Union has described the damage by saying that at the moment most insurance claims regarding the earthquake describe “minor damage such as tiles off roofs, breakages inside the homes and brick walls collapsing.” It has also been reported that approximately 1,200 insurance claims were made in the first twelve hours after the earthquake hit Britain.

These reports come one day after the United Kingdom was hit by a 5.2 earthquake. Tremors were reported as widespread as Edinburgh, Manchester, Sheffield, Middlesbrough, Cambridge, London, Birmingham and Southampton .



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  • “Minor earthquake shakes England” — Wikinews, February 27, 2008

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February 27, 2008

Minor earthquake shakes England

Minor earthquake shakes England – Wikinews, the free news source

Minor earthquake shakes England

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The epicentre of the quake according to USGS (Source: NASA Worldwind).

The United Kingdom was hit by a minor earthquake on February 27, 2008 at 00:56:45 UTC. Tremors were reported as wide spread as Edinburgh, Manchester, Sheffield, Middlesbrough, Cambridge, London, Birmingham and Southampton.

The epicentre appears to be in the East Midlands region, 15 miles north-east of Lincoln co-ordinates 53.321°N, 0.314°W, with a magnitude of 4.9 according to the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre, 5.0 according to the GFZ Potsdam, 4.7 according to USGS, and 5.2 according to the British Geological Survey. As such it was similar or stronger than the 2002 earthquake centred on Dudley which was recorded as being 4.8 and caused damage to buildings.

There was also an aftershock at about 0400 GMT reaching 1.8 on the Richter Scale.

It has been reported that a number of buildings have been damaged and a man in South Yorkshire suffered a broken pelvis caused by falling masonry.

Strong earthquakes are relatively infrequent occurrences in the UK, the last widely-reported quake having occurred in Kent on April 28, 2007. The British Geological Survey reported that … “earthquakes of this size occur in the mainland UK roughly every 30 years, although are more common in offshore areas”. They also reported that … “this is the largest earthquake in the UK since the magnitude 5.4 ML Lleyn Peninsula earthquake in 1984, which was widely felt across England and Wales.” [1]



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April 26, 2007

Pilots spot \’UFOs\’ near the Channel Islands

Pilots spot ‘UFOs’ near the Channel Islands

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

UFO
Other stories on UFO-related events
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…More articles here
A map showing the location of Alderney

A map showing the location of Alderney

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UFO

Two airline pilots said they witnessed UFOs off the coast of Alderney on Monday.

Ray Bowyer, 50, a captain with Aurigny Air Services, said that during his flight from Southampton, England, at 3 p.m., he saw a bright-yellow light 10 miles west of Alderney in England. His craft at the time was 30 miles away from the island and had an elevation of 4,000ft.

Cquote1.svg It was a very sharp, thin yellow object with a green area. It was 2,000ft up and stationary, I thought it was about 10 miles away, although I later realised it was approximately 40 miles from us. At first, I thought it was the size of a 737. But it must have been much bigger because of how far away it was. It could have been as much as a mile wide. Cquote2.svg

As Bowyer approached Alderney, he noticed another object identical to the first one.

Cquote1.svg It was exactly the same but looked smaller because it was further away. It was closer to Guernsey. I can’t explain it. At first, I thought it might have been a reflection from a vinery in Guernsey, but that would have disappeared quickly. This was clearly visual for about nine minutes. As I got closer to it, it became clear to me that it was tangible. I was in two minds about going towards it to have a closer look but decided against it because of the size of it. I had to think of the safety of the passengers first. I’m certainly not saying that it was something of another world. All I’m saying is that I have never seen anything like it before in all my years of flying. Cquote2.svg

Bowyer, who has been flying commercial aircrafts for about 20 years, said that he did file a report on the incident and did contact air traffic controllers during the incident.

Aerial shot of Alderney (centre) and Burhou (upper right)
Image: Smb1001.

Paul Kelly, 31, who was the Jersey Airport air traffic controller on duty during the incident, said that the airport received simultaneous reports from the Aurigny and Blue Island pilot and that the Blue Island pilot had reported a UFO approximately 1,500ft underneath his plane. Kelly noted that the airport was unable to detect the object on their radar.

Cquote1.svg The pilot from Blue Islands was en route to Jersey at the same time and as he went past Sark he described an object behind him to his left. The description was very similar to Captain Bowyer’s and they described it as being in exactly the same place. But they were looking at it from opposite sides. The Blue Islands plane was at 3,500ft at the time so, again, both pilots placed it at the same altitude. If the object was stationary, our equipment would not have picked it up because the radar would have screened it out. Cquote2.svg

John Spencer, deputy chairman of the British UFO Research Association, said: “These types of sightings have been reported by pilots – generally accepted to be reliable and sensible observers – since the 1940s and they have excited attention to this day. Such light effects are often popularly thought to represent alien visitors but many UFO researchers believe they more likely represent natural atmospheric phenomena not yet fully understood by science. However, a similar encounter in 1978 over the Bass Straits in Australia, where the pilot was in radio contact with the ground throughout, resulted in the pilot never being heard from again, so these phenomena are important to study.”

Nick Pope, who previously worked for the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence, said: “While no witnesses are infallible, pilots are trained observers and less likely than most people to misidentify something mundane. The MoD’s UFO case files contain several reports from civil and military pilots, some of which were correlated by radar. This is the sort of sighting that is taken seriously and should be investigated thoroughly. While most UFOs can be explained as misidentifications of aircraft, weather balloons, satellites and suchlike, a small percentage are more difficult to explain. This is one of the most intriguing sightings I’ve heard about in recent years.”

The current spokesperson for the UK Ministry of Defence said that they would not be investigating this incident.

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May 6, 2006

Cruise liner off England coast catches fire

Cruise liner off England coast catches fire

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Saturday, May 6, 2006

A cruise ship caught fire 32 km (20 miles) off the southeast coast of England. The blaze started in the engine-room of the Calypso, which had 708 passengers and crew onboard.

The passengers were mainly Dutch.

Specialist firefighters transported by helicopter from the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service tackled the fire.

It was tugged to Southampton by the Anglican Monarch, a tug boat jointly operated by England and France. The relieved passengers left to boat 16 hours after the fire started.

“A team will be going onboard to assess the situation, so time will tell,” said the Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokeswoman.

There were no causualties and no evacuation.

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