Update: Three men rescued after windfarm vessel blaze off Lowestoft

PUBLISHED: 15:15 14 January 2014 | UPDATED: 16:21 14 January 2014

Lowestoft Lifeboat has been called out

Lowestoft Lifeboat has been called out

Archant © 2009

Three men have been rescued after a blaze aboard an offshore vessel.

A 15m workcat, called the ECC Topaz, caught fire in the North Sea at about 1pm today.

Humber Coastguard co-ordinated the rescue operation after the crew abandoned the workcat about ten miles east of Lowestoft. The vessel had been heading out to service a wind farm when the blaze struck.

Lowestoft’s RNLI Lifeboat was called out following reports of a fire aboard the vessel.

A spokesman for Humber Coastguard said: “The crew, who were wearing life-jackets, managed to get into a liferaft while they waited to be rescued by the RAF Sea King helicopter from Wattisham airfield in Suffolk.

The crew were winched to safety and airlifted to James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston as a precaution. They are not believed to have suffered any serious injuries.

The Dutch Coastguard aircraft, which was in the area at the time, remained on standby throughout the rescue operation and The Spirit of Lowestoft Lifeboat also attended.

The fuel and oil on board the ECC Topaz is believed to have burnt off during the blaze before the vessel sank.

Graham Dawson, watch manager at Humber Coastguard, said: “The fire was quite severe and the crew had no option but to abandon the vessel.

“The crew had the correct lifesaving equipment and rescue resources were quickly on scene.”

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