Two men have been arrested after a fire on board a ferry sparked an emergency rescue and forced it to return to Newcastle.
Two crew members and four passengers had to be winched off the North Sea ferry after they breathed in smoke when the blaze broke out in a cabin room 30 miles from land around 11pm last night.
A 26-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of arson and a 28-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of affray, a spokeswoman for Northumbria Police said.
Passengers began leaving the ferry this morning after arriving back at the Tyneside port.
Some 946 passengers were on board the ferry which was sailing to Amsterdam.
Gert Jakobsen, a spokesman for ferry operator DFDS Seaways, said earlier that police were in control of the King Seaways cruise ferry and were speaking with people on board about the incident.
He added that the ferry would not be continuing its journey and instead will wait until its next scheduled departure to Amsterdam tomorrow morning.
The passenger suspected of starting the fire had been detained on board by ship staff while it sailed back to the port, police said.
The fire broke out in a passenger cabin around 10.45pm and was extinguished by 11pm.
RAF helicopters from Leconfield near Hull and Boulmer, Northumberland were scrambled to the vessel along with RNLI lifeboats from Bridlington and Filey.
Mr Jakobsen added that he expects the injured crew and passengers flown to Scarborough Hospital to be released later today.
A further 15 passengers and eight crew members were treated by doctors for smoke-related injuries on board the ship.
He said the company will try to help passengers forced to abandon their trip to Amsterdam find alternative crossings.
“We are very sorry for those passengers who have not only been affected by the fire but now by these delays,” he said.
“We are looking at how we can help them.
“The cabin that was burnt is very damaged and there has been some smoke damage to surrounding cabins but the ship’s function has not been affected in any way and is safe to travel.”
Were you on board the ferry? Do you know someone who was? Contact the Gazette newsdesk on 427 4858.