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Nine rescued after terrifying yacht fire

Nine people were dramatically rescued after their yacht burst into flames in the North Sea yesterday.

The alarm was raised at about 9.20am after the yacht Miracle issued a distress call to the coastguard from about 50 miles south-west of Shetland.

The group from Poland were left drifting in a life raft after abandoning their vessel when it was consumed by flames.

Dramatic video footage, filmed from a coastguard helicopter, showed the blaze taking hold on board the stricken boat.

But appropriately, given the name of their ship, the sailors miraculously emerged unscathed from the inferno.

The crew abandoned ship in the remote area and were picked up by the Norwegian-registered REM Gambler, a nearby vessel that had picked up the distress call.

Jens Goderstad, captain of the REM Gambler, said: “We got a distress call and found out the Miracle was only seven nautical miles from us.

“We set full speed for it and could see the flames and the smoke. We got hold of the guys in the life raft, who had a radio with them, and after an hour or so we had the life raft.

“We lifted the life raft onto the vessel and got all the people on board. They were happy to be rescued.”

The REM Gambler eventually arrived off Shetland after 6pm and the dishevelled crew boarded the Scalloway harbour pilot boat, Lyrie, which returned them to terra firma.

As they came ashore, they were met by a team of coastguard and police officers as well as by members of the local Red Cross team and the Fishermen’s Mission.

Understandably, they appeared relieved and tired to have finally made it onto firm ground, but they were unwilling to speak about their experience to waiting reporters.

Shetland’s area commander, chief inspector Lindsay Tulloch, said that his officers were interviewing the crew to find out what happened on board and to establish that everyone was OK.

He added: “We will be speaking to members of the crew to ensure they are all safe and well and to ascertain exactly what happened.

“This is just a routine investigation to make sure nothing sinister happened, and we have no reason to believe that it did.”

He would not be drawn on reports that the incident has been triggered by an explosion on the Miracle.

The Red Cross were waiting to treat the group after their lengthy ordeal at sea.

Nicola Stove, the charity’s northern isles service manager, said: “We have a team of staff and volunteers ready to meet and assist the nine people affected by this morning’s explosion.

“We will be on hand to make sure that the survivors have the food, clothing and toiletries that they need as well as providing transport and phones, so they can let loved ones know they are safe.

“In addition to practical support, we will also be providing any emotional support that people need after such a traumatic experience.”

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