Ferry ‘collided with two yachts’ as RNLI search water after ‘cries for help heard’

A ferry that ran aground in thick fog near to the Isle of Wight reportedly collided with two yachts before rescue crews were called to search for people in the water after cries for help were heard.

The Red Falcon car ferry – with 56 people on board – is believed to be just 50 metres short of East Cowes, with RNLI crews deployed to search the surrounding area.

A spokesman from HM Coastguard said they received reports of the incident just after 8am on Sunday when thick fog descended on Cowes Harbour.

The ferry is believed to still be in place, it is not yet known when the passengers will be removed (Picture: Island Echo)

A member of the public made a 999 call at the same time reporting that they had heard cries for help.

The spokesman said: ‘We are currently carrying out an extensive search of the area with Cowes RNLI lifeboat, Calshot RNLI lifeboats and Coastguard Rescue Teams from Bembridge, Needles and Ventnor.

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‘A Coastguard search and rescue helicopter was searching the area but due to the low visibility in the area had to turn back.

‘The search is ongoing and we have no further information at this stage.

‘The ferry with 56 persons onboard remains grounded at the entrance at Cowes. Those persons onboard are safe and well. ‘

Witnesses described seeing the ferry close to the shore near Cowes Harbour (Picture: Madeline Paterson)

The heavy fog has now lifted but one witness at the scene said all ferries out of Cowes have been cancelled and a number of residents are now queuing to taking pictures.

It comes on the day that thousands of runners – including many from the Isle of Wight – were hoping to travel to Portsmouth for this year’s Great South Run.

Jane Hyde told Metro.co.uk: ‘It’s standing room only down at the front for people taking pictures.

‘There’s mayhem on the Isle Of Wight. I believe all ferries have been cancelled along with Red Jet and today is the Great South Run.’

Husband Barry Hyde added: ‘Never seen so many people down here. The Red Falcon is side on along the esplanade.’

The Red Funnel car ferry is believed to be just 50 metres short of East Cowes ( Picture: Jane Hyde)
People are queuing to take photos of the ferry (Picture: Jane Hyde)

A spokesman for ferry company Red Funnel said: ‘The 0700 vehicle ferry sailing from Southampton to East Cowes came into contact with several small yachts whilst entering Cowes Harbour at 0800 this morning in dense fog.

‘The ship (Red Falcon) is currently aground but is watertight and no injuries have been sustained to any of the 40 passengers on board.’

The company said there were no reports of any injuries to anyone who was involved in the incident.

The spokesman added: ‘Attempts to refloat the vessel are currently under way on a falling tide. If this proves unsuccessful, a further attempt will be made at the next high tide.

‘Cowes Harbour has now reopened and Red Funnel’s Red Jet Southampton-West Cowes service will resume shortly.’

Rakina Wadey, whose parents live nearby, shared pictures online of the ferry just a short way from the coastline.

Her parents have ‘never known anything like it’, she said.


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