Sealand will take three months to repair

WORK on the repairs to the mini-state of Sealand off the coast of Felixstowe are progressing well, but it will take another three months to complete the task.

WORK on the repairs to the mini-state of Sealand off the coast of Felixstowe are progressing well, but it will take another three months to complete the task.

The sovereign nation suffered serious damage - estimated at around £500,000 - after fire broke out in the summer and firefighters were taken out to it by helicopter, while a tug pumped thousands of gallons of water onto it.

As revealed in the Evening Star, UK taxpayers are footing the bill for the emergency operation at the former war-time fort.

Prince Regent of Sealand Michael Bates said the damage had been horrendous, but the country was able to operate normally while refurbishment took place.

He said: “The main problems were the smoke damage because it was sooty everywhere, but also mopping up the water as there was such a lot pumped in to put out the fire.

“It's a big job but we have been at it pretty much constantly since the fire, though we have had breaks to wait for bits and pieces we have needed.

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“We are more than half-way there now and should be finished in about three months.”

The fire damaged about a third of the main administrative and communal facilities and destroyed the main power generation facility, though back-up generators were unaffected.

Rulers of Sealand have placed a one-mile exclusion zone around the 932 sq yd principality, which is also home to an internet server company, while the work takes place.

A worldwide Sealand Disaster Fund had been launched via the internet and this had brought in some money to help with repairs.

What do you think of Sealand? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

WEBLINK: www.sealandgov.org

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www.mcga.gov.uk

Factfile: Sealand

Sealand was built as a North Sea war-time fort called Roughs Tower in 1941 at a cost of £1m.

Its two 70ft concrete towers weigh 4,500 tons and contain seven storeys of living quarters.

Visible from Felixstowe seafront, it was used for pirate radio stations in the 1960s.

In 1967, Roy Bates, now 82, a wealthy businessman and former 8th Army Royal Fusiliers major, and his wife Joan, a former beauty queen, declared it as the sovereign state of Sealand.

It has its only currency, flag, stamps, national anthem, constitution and laws.

Over the past four decades the weatherbeaten structure has been the scene of many colourful incidents and its history is as chequered as any of the most volatile hot spots around the world.

There have been at least seven attempts by raiders to try to seize it from the Bates family with petrol bombs, shotguns and hand-to-hand fighting.

One German man was even imprisoned for seven weeks before receiving a royal pardon, and in the 1990s there was considerable concern after Interpol found forged Sealand passports being used to launder money from drug smuggling.

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