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Passengers stuck on stranded ferry after door jams

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.

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