Blaze-stricken tanker awaits rescue tug

A 2,550-ton tanker is anchored off the south coast of Britain after the crew put out a fire which had torn through its engine room.

A 2,550-ton tanker is anchored off the south coast of Britain after the crew put out a fire which had torn through its engine room.

The 13-man crew of the Danish-registered Sofie Theresa, which was carrying a cargo of wax, tackled the blaze 18 miles off Beachy Head at Eastbourne, East Sussex.

They had successfully extinguished the fire before lifeboats from Eastbourne and Hastings arrived at the scene.

They were joined later by the Solent Coastguard rescue helicopter, which used infra-red equipment to scan for hot-spots on board the crippled ship.

The Maritime Coastguard Agency reported last night that the crew, on route from Rotterdam in Holland to Petit Coronne in France, was in no danger and there were no injuries reported.

The ship's "non-hazardous" cargo of "slack wax", used in candles and cosmetics, was not affected by the fire, an agency spokesman added.

This morning, a commercial tug is on its way to tow the Sophie Theresa back to Rotterdam. A Dover Coastguard spokesman confirmed the fire was out.

During the fire, the agency's principal counter pollution and salvage officer and the Government's maritime salvage and intervention representative were informed. Other ships in the English Channel were warned to steer clear of the scene.

The ship's sister vessel, the Ellen Theresa, was close by when the fire started and stayed on hand in case of evacuation.

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