P&O cruise ship crash: Britannia ‘floated away like paper boat’ & collided with freight vessel in Spain storm

Passengers described hearing a ‘loud, grating sound’ as the ship drifted away from its moornings in Palma, sun beds flipped into the air and families put life jackets on their children.

Passengers were left terrified after a UK cruise ship broke free from its moorings and collided with a freight vessel during a storm in Spain. The Britannia, a P&O cruise ship based in Southampton, floated away “like a paper boat” before crashing in Palma, Mallorca on Sunday morning (August 27).

The incident also saw a walkway fall into the sea and a number of people on board sustaining minor injuries. People aboard the ship recorded videos and images of the incident, which show firefighters at the scene and debris floating in the sea.

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Passenger Gavin McCoy told the BBC 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 added “We were 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. We’ve drifted well away from the berth and collided into a nearby freight/cargo ship.”

Another passenger, Dale Hopkin from Blackpool, also told the BBC it was “madness” on board as sunbeds “were starting to flip”. 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”.

Passengers also reported hearing a “really loud, grating sound” and families putting life jackets on their children. They also praised the actions of the staff and said there were regular updates on the situation from the ship’s captain.

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Torrential outbreaks of rain and gusts of up to 120km (75 miles) per hour are currently battering the Balearic islands. The conditions have led to the cancellation of over 20 flights, Spain’s airport operator said, with weather warnings in place for parts of the archipelago extended into today (Monday, August 28).

The captain informed passengers that “there’s no structural compromise, but deck five has sustained a small amount of damage” on the PA system. The ship is set to stay in Palma to allow for a technical assessment.

A spokesperson for P&O Cruises said: “We are aware of an incident involving Britannia on Sunday morning while the ship was alongside in Palma de Mallorca. We are working to assess the situation. The captain is keeping all guests updated.”

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