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Felixstowe: people remember the European Gateway disaster, 30 years on

11:13 19 December 2012

The European Gateway on it's side off Felixstowe the morning after the disaster in December 1982

The European Gateway on it's side off Felixstowe the morning after the disaster in December 1982

COMMUNITY figures have today remembered the six people that died in the European Gateway ferry disaster 30 years ago.

The ferry was travelling from Felixstowe to Zeebrugge when it capsized off the coast of Felixstowe following a collision with the inbound Speed Link Vanguard on December 19, 1982.

Just a few hours before the disaster, which happened at about 11pm, the people on board had been enjoying a carol service and getting ready for Christmas.

Doreen Savage, Felixstowe Councillor, was on board for the service.

She said: “We had been on it in the afternoon and we left about 5.30pm - the next thing we knew at midnight there was a phone call to say it had gone down.

“It was awful from the point of view that the people you had just shared a joyous occasion with were no longer alive.”

A massive rescue operation took place with all available boats and harbour tugs being drafted in to help – a headcount later revealed that six people were missing.

Despite communications improving since the European Gateway some believe similar incidents, like the Costa Concordia disaster, could happen again unless lessons are learnt.

Ian Heeley, who was working at the port at the time of the European Gateway, added: “With the amount of ships that go in and out of Felixstowe, you can never say that it will never happen again.”

Pick up a copy of tomorrow’s Ipswich Star and Felixstowe Star for memories of the disaster and our pledge to honour the victims.

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