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Man to face court on charge of starting ferry fire

A 26-year-old man is due to appear in court today after being charged with starting a fire on board a North Sea ferry, which sparked a dramatic emergency rescue by RAF helicopters.

Boden George Hughes, of Sunderland, who was last night charged with arson reckless to endangering life and affray, is due to appear from custody at North Tyneside Magistrates' Court.

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

Scottish passengers were caught up in the drama after the DFDS Seaways vessel from North Shields, Tyneside, abandoned its trip to Amsterdam on Saturday night, when the vessel was 30 miles off the North Yorkshire coast.

Some of those on board vowed never to sail again after their frightening experience.

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 to get off the boat 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.

One Scottish passenger, called Dawn, said they were left outside on the deck in freezing conditions for more than 45 minutes after the fire alarm went off.

She said that her fellow passengers were left 'petrified'.

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