Vow to repair Sealand

RULERS of the independent mini-state of Sealand today said they hoped to do most of the repair work themselves following the devastating fire which left the country in ruins.

RULERS of the independent mini-state of Sealand today said they hoped to do most of the repair work themselves following the devastating fire which left the country in ruins.

Michael Bates, Prince of Sealand, said it was hoped to make a start as soon as possible but could not estimate how long the work would take.

He believes it could cost up to £500,000 to put the principality back to how it was - and the biggest blow was that it was not insured for damage by fire.

He said: “It is so difficult at the moment. We have been out there once to have a look and try to work out what needs to be done and we just need to clean it up to begin with. The damage is so much worse than we expected.

“The water damage is horrendous but that couldn't be helped because the tug fighting the fire was brilliant and needed to put as much water on there as it could.

“But the windows had blown out and a lot of water has found its way down into the legs of the tower and so there is a lot of water damage in there, and a lot of smoke damage, too.”

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Prince Michael and his sons James, 19, and Liam, 17, climbed onto the tower seven miles off Felixstowe from a boat using a hook ladder.

They were not prepared for the devastation which greeted them.

He said: “It is heartbreaking, really. We will do as much of the repair work we can ourselves.

“The aim will be to get out there as regularly as we can and do a bit each time.”

Offices on Sealand are leased to IT firm HavenCo Ltd, which has its internet servers on the former war-time fort. The company cannot function until the repairs are made.

Flames destroyed the generator and gutted three of the rooms - generator room, radio shed and living room - and left the legs of the tower smoke-logged.

A watchman on the fort suffered burns in the drama and was airlifted to Ipswich Hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation. He was later released.

Sealand was a gun emplacement known as Roughs Tower built in 1941 at a cost of £1m to defend England against German air raids in the Second World War.

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

After being used as a base for pirate radio stations, it was taken over by Michael Bates' father, Major Roy Bates, who declared it an independent sovereign state in 1967.

WEBLINK: www.sealandgov.com

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