Police probe North Sea sinking

A ship's captain was being questioned by police today after a cargo vessel collided with a gas platform 40 miles north east of Cromer and sunk several hours later.

A ship's captain was being questioned by police today after a cargo vessel collided with a gas platform 40 miles north east of Cromer and sunk several hours later.

The 2000-tonne Jork struck the unmanned Viking Echo platform just before 6pm on Saturday and sunk at about 8am this morning.

The vessel had been carrying grain from Lubeck in Germany and was destined for the River Humber. The grain is thought to have played a part in the sinking once the collision had happened.

The Jork sunk after bursting its hull, caused by the wheat on board “swelling”, said Mario Siano, watch manager at Yarmouth Coastguard.

“The captain of the ship is in police custody and the rest of the Polish crew are being housed in a local hotel,” added Mr Siano.

“It's a routine thing for captains to be breathalysed in situations like this. There will be all sorts of checks done.”

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A 500-metre exclusion zone is in place around platforms and an investigation is under way to find the cause of the incident.

It is also understood that any pollution will be minimal.

Two Yarmouth Coastguard boats and an RAF rescue helicopter from Wattisham in Suffolk attended the incident.

Lifeboats, including the one at Cromer, were on standby to help, but were not needed.

A spokesman for gas suppliers ConocoPhillips, who operate the platform, said: “Fortunately there has only been very slight damage to the platform.

“It was shut down immediately after the incident and made secure. An investigation team plans to make a full assessment of it today.

“The platform is normally unmanned and we're very pleased it was on this occasion.”

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