An RAF spokesman has said that a call for rescue for a ferry blaze on the North Sea came in at around 10.40pm for RAF assistance, adding that they thought that 23 people would need to be winched to safety after they had breathed in smoke.
But that figure was downgraded to four people, and they were thought to have been lifted off the vessel well within an hour by a crew from RAF Leconfield near Hull.
A second helicopter from RAF Boulmer, Northumberland, was due to arrive around 11.30pm and was expected to stay close to the vessel on stand-by. He said the operation was being co-ordinated by the Humber Coastguard.
Hundreds of passengers have been forced to remain on a stranded ferry after the ship's doors failed to open when it finally reached a French harbour.
Around 500 people thought their ordeal was over when the Irish Ferries vessel finally docked at Cherbourg after five attempts today - 24 hours later than scheduled - because of rough seas.
But the bow door on the Oscar Wilde jammed as its passengers prepared to leave. The journey was meant to be overnight but ended up taking two days.
An Irish Ferries spokesman said, "Basically those passengers are still on the ship. They haven't been able to get off. There's been a malfunction on the door lock, it's a hydraulic failure that has stopped us from opening it".
Normally in these circumstances a ferry would sail out, turn and reverse in so passengers could alight through the ship's stern - or back - door.
However, as conditions remain dangerous in the English Channel, the ship's captain has been warned against doing this.
Engineers are working on the bow door, but it is not known how long the repairs will take.
An air and sea search is still underway for a passenger who is believed to have fallen overboard from a passenger ferry travelling from Guernsey to Poole in Dorset.
"At 5.35pm today crew were made aware of a possible missing person situation onboard Condor Rapide. The captain raised a Pan Pan with the coastguard and a full search was conducted of the vessel.
"The passenger was unable to be found and the Pan Pan was upgraded to a Mayday.
Condor Rapide is currently engaged in searching the area where the passenger is believed to have gone missing, and Portland Coastguard is co-ordinating. The Portland Coastguard helicopter has been scrambled and other vessels in the area are participating in the search. The ferry was en route from Guernsey to Poole.