A P&O ferry erupted in flames as it sailed from Dover, England to Calais, France this morning.
A number of news sources report that a fire broke out in the engine room of the Pride of Canterbury as it was approaching port in France.
337 passengers and 119 crew members were aboard the ferry at the time of the fire.
Many of the on-line newspapers carried video and photographs taken of the fire by passenger Ed Sproston, from Kent, who recorded images of what he described as "thick toxic fumes" which "left him struggling for breath."
Mr. Sproston said the fire blazed for "a good 20 minutes" before before it was extinguished. He told the Dover Express that he observed crew members "wearing breathing apparatus as they tried to tackle the blaze."
Mr. Sproston told reporters that a "lot of people were panicking and the crew were trying to calm them down. But it was all a bit disorganised. My lungs are still hurting now . . ."
P&O down-played the fire, claiming that it "was extinguished straight away by the sprinkler system." P&O also quickly claimed that "there were no injuries, either among the crew or passengers. The passengers disembarked as normal."
P&O has been in the press repeatedly following the disappearance of passengers at sea. The mother of one passenger, Marianne Fearnside mom to her son Richard, started a petition to require ferries to install CCTV cameras.
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Video and Photo Credit: Ed Sproston via Daily Mail; lower photo – Julien Carpentier (Facebook)