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Sunken cargo ship bound for Runcorn found on seabed

The Cypriot-registered Cemfjord was bound for Runcorn when it capsized and sunk. Credit: RNLI/Wick

A cargo ship bound for Runcorn that sunk with eight crew on board has been located on the seabed.

A major search effort was mounted on Saturday after the upturned hull of the Cypriot-registered Cemfjord was spotted in the waters of the Pentland Firth by a passing ferry. The search was suspended just after 4pm on Saturday after no trace was found of the crew members.

A sonar ship has now travelled to the area to search for the sunken ship and it is believed that the ship is upside down on the seabed.

It was a violent storm and it seems likely that the weather would have been a factor but, until we have some better idea of what happened, I can't say how much of a factor,

It must have played some part in what happened but it will take some time to put the picture together because, sadly, we're not in a position to interview the crew and the vessel is submerged in around 68 metres (223ft) of water.

– Tony Redding, spokesman for German shipping company Brise of Hamburg,

It has emerged that the Cemfjord was involved in an incident last July when it was grounded off Denmark.


Halton MP calls for waste-incinerator to be shut down

Halton MP Derek Twigg is calling for a waste-incinerator to be shut down, after complaints from the local community. People living near "The Runcorn Energy from Waste" facility claim steam-emissions and noise from the site are making their lives a misery. The Environment Agency say they've found no evidence of a breach of the rules. But Mr Twigg is now calling for all parties to meet and find a solution.

Inquest told of "explosion" before crash

Pte Michael Peers, who was in the Ridgeback when it turned over and fell into the canal, described to the inquest how he managed to escape from the submerged vehicle and make his way to safety as he was on the brink of unconsciousness.

In a statement read to the hearing, he said the vehicle was travelling at speed, leaving the following Ridgeback to trail behind at some distance, as it responded to the call for help from the ANP at CP5. He said that the crew were all wearing their seatbelts and had opened the hatches as they travelled close to the canal.

He said: "I heard a loud bang which was like an explosion, I do not know where it came from or where it impacted if it did impact.

"I felt the vehicle jolt and I thought it might be an IED. I felt the vehicle swerve then flip over on to its right hand side.

"The whole event lasted a couple of seconds or less. The vehicle then fell over on to its left side and submerged in the water, I didn't have time to take a breath.

"I managed to stand up and pushed out on the walls and found an opening, I managed to pull myself through the opening. I cannot expand on any further details because of the shock and confusion."

He said the weight of his body armour caused him to sink below the surface of the water. "I couldn't remove my body armour and in my last moment of consciousness I managed to kick my legs."

He was then helped from the water by members of the ANP. He added: "I started to cough up lots of water."

He said it took about 45 minutes to retrieve the vehicle from the water which involved the other Ridgeback using a tow rope to pull it out.

Pte Peers said that he then saw the bodies of Pte Isaac then L/Cpl Ramsden being brought out of the vehicle. He said: "I was in shock, I smoked about 20 cigarettes to calm down."

And he added: "I do not know what may have caused the accident but I did see extensive damage to the front of the Ridgeback."

The inquest, which is due to last six days, was adjourned until tomorrow.


Highways Agency advise commuters to avoid M56

The Highways Agency is asking commuters heading home along the M56 in Cheshire on Tuesday to avoid the area if possible.

The motorway was closed after an accident this morning, and while one lane has reopened, two are closed for recovery and investigation work.

The statement reads:

"Drivers heading towards Chester and North Wales this evening are being advised that the carriageway is unlikely to be fully re-opened before 6pm and should avoid this section of the M56 if possible – seeking alternative routes or delaying their journeys. People used to joining the westbound carriageway at junction 12 should also be aware that this will remain closed too for safety reasons until the repairs are completed and the whole carriageway is re-opened.

Drivers are urged to check traffic conditions before setting out on journeys. The Highways Agency provides live traffic information via its website, local and national radio travel bulletins, electronic road signs and mobile platforms, such as the iPhone. Local Twitter services are also available at @HAtraffic_nwest and @HAtraffic_pen9 for transpennine routes.

Providing they can do so safely, road users can also call the Highways Agency Information Line (0300 123 5000) to keep up to date with road conditions."

M56 remains partially closed after fatal crash

Police have confirmed the driver of a lorry that crashed on the M56 this morning has died.

A statement from Cheshire Police said the force and Highways Agency were trying to reopen the motorway: "Lane 3 was re-opened, and emergency services are working to re-open another lane as we approach afternoon rush hour.

"However, police are reminding motorists that there will continue to be delays, while the work to recover the lorry, repair the barriers, and clean the carriageway of fuel spillage continues.

"Police are renewing their appeal to anyone who may have witnessed the collision, and not yet made contact with police, to ring Cheshire Police on the non emergency number 101, quoting incident number 211 of 12/08/2014."

Diversion around junction 12 of M56

The Highways Agency is advising drivers to avoid the M56 westbound between junctions 12 and 14 after a lorry hit motorway barriers. A large amount of diesel fuel and engine oil has been spilled across the carriageway.

A statement said "An official diversion is in place with drivers being advised to follow the ‘hollow black circle’ symbol from junction 12 taking them back onto the motorway at junction 14 via the southbound A557, westbound A56 (parallel to the motorway) and northbound A5117.

The diversion is not suitable for any vehicles over 14 feet and 6 inches long. If possible, to avoid queuing along the diversion route, drivers are advised to totally avoid the area and seek alternative routes or delay their journeys."

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