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P&O Britannia cruise ship crashes during Mallorca storms

Aug 31, 2023Aug 31, 2023

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Watch: Two ships collide as storms hit Mallorca

A cruise ship broke free from moorings and collided with a freight vessel during a storm in Mallorca, Spain.

Passengers on Britannia, a P&O Cruises ship based in Southampton, described how after it broke loose the ship "floated away like a paper boat". A walkway also fell into the sea.

A small number of people are being cared for onboard after sustaining minor injuries, P&O said.

It said the ship will stay in Palma to allow for a technical assessment.

The captain earlier told passengers there was "no structural compromise".

People aboard the ship recorded videos and images of the incident, showing an emergency response and debris floating in the sea.

Passenger Gavin McCoy said the "unexpected drama" happened while "the local fire service and crew were carrying out an emergency drill".

He said that at about 11:00 BST "a sudden rain and wind storm ripped us away from our dockside moorings, breaking tethering lines, water hoses, and causing the walkway to fall into the sea".

He said he was "sitting by the window in the coffee shop, and the first thing we saw were the blue dockside reception marquee tents blowing through the air," Mr McCoy added.

"We've drifted well away from the berth and collided into a nearby freight/cargo ship."

Another passenger, Dale Hopkin said it was "madness" on board as sunbeds "were starting to flip".

Mr Hopkin, from Blackpool, said the rain was so heavy he could not see out of the ship's windows.

He added that after the vessel broke free from its moorings "it floated away like a paper boat. The staff couldn't do anything more".

His wife, Tracey Hopkin, described it all as "a bit of drama" and said the ship came close to the breakwater rocks in the harbour.

She said she heard "a really loud noise, a grating sound" and "couldn't believe what I was seeing".

She praised the actions of the staff and said there were regular updates from the ship's captain.

Another holidaymaker, Tilley Eve, said for around two hours "things were really bad", adding: "I felt like I was in the Wizard of Oz."

She said some families had put life jackets on their children.

The storm is likely to be one of the severe thunderstorms, affecting the Balearic Islands.

Torrential outbreaks of rain and gusts of up to 120km (75 miles) per hour have hit the islands. The conditions led to the cancellation of over 20 flights, Spain's airport operator said.

Weather warnings for parts of the archipelago have been extended until Monday.

The captain informed passengers that "there's no structural compromise, but deck five has sustained a small amount of damage" on the PA system.

P&O Cruises spokesperson said they were "aware of an incident involving Britannia on Sunday morning" and were "working to assess the situation".

Mr McCoy said that everyone was safe and there was "no problem on the ship apart from a few scrapes and bumps to one or more lifeboats that project from the ship".

"The many people on coach excursions will be able to get back on again," he added.

Passengers will have access to onboard entertainment and activities while technical teams make an assessment of the ship, P&O said.

The cruise started in Southampton and is due back on 1 September.

This is the second time an emergency has happened on a Southampton ship due to bad weather in recent weeks, with the Queen Mary 2 breaking free from its bow mooring line and drifting off the quay on 4 August.

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