A passenger ferry with nearly 400 people on board has been evacuated after running aground in a Costa Blanca port. Spanish coastguards and Civil Guards helped get passengers to safety after the drama in the port of Denia near Benidorm just before midnight on Friday.
The packed ship, a Balearia ferry taking holidaymakers from Majorca and Ibiza to Denia, is understood to have ran aground after scraping the harbour wall as it prepared to dock. Passengers who had been travelling with cars had to leave them on board and were given the option of being bussed to the nearby cities of Valencia or Alicante with stops on the way. There were no reports of any injuries. Spanish ferry operator Balearia insisted there had been no fuel spillage during the incident.
The vessel involved in the incident was the fast ferry 'Pinar del Rio'. The rescue operation went on until around 2am this morning. Balearia said in a statement: 'The fast ferry Pinar del Rio ran aground at 11.30pm last night by Denia's harbour wall without any personal injury to passengers or crew. 'The fast ferry, which was coming from Palma and Ibiza, was going to dock in the port.
'There were 393 people and 70 vehicles on board. 'All the passengers were unharmed and were evacuated using Spanish Coastguard and Civil Guard vessels and a Balearia tug.'
Insisting there had been no fuel spillage, Belearia said they would take precautionary measure on Saturday morning including erecting a pollution control barrier. The statement added: 'Balearia made two coaches available for passengers with cars which couldn't be disembarked from the ferry, one with a final destination of Valencia and the other bound for Alicante with stops en route. 'Balearia will remain in contact with passengers who still have their vehicles on board to inform them about when they can remove them.
'The company removed the other belongings they had on board and have handed them over.' An investigation into the incident is now underway. Divers are evaluating the damage to the ship and working on ways of refloating the ferry so it can be brought into port. Passengers who were due to travel today on the stricken ferry have been relocated to three other ships.
One Spanish passenger named Julian who was on the ferry with his girlfriend told MailOnline they had a 'very bad experience' with Balearia and had to leave some of their belongings behind. 'Last night the Ibiza ferry crashed - Denia and the crew did not act as expected,' he said. 'They barely gave information on what was happening, they were inexperienced, the information was only given in Spanish and they could not keep people in their seats, everything was chaos. 'They were finally evacuating the children and the elders first by the Civil Guard, leaving our luggage on the boat along with people's vehicles.'
A witness who was at the port of Denia watching fireworks last night told MailOnline: 'There was a good few hundred people on the port watching fireworks. 'We saw the ferry arrive as normal, there were a few police cars around! All cars started leaving at about 12:30ish once the fireworks had finished.'
The Pinar del Rio fast ferry was involved in an incident in June last year when it ran aground off San Antonio in Ibiza. The vessel can carry 463 people and 80 vehicles.