Two people have been arrested following a fire which erupted on a ferry bound for Amsterdam.
The DFDS vessel King Seaways was heading from Newcastle to Holland when a blaze is understood to have started in a cabin at around 10pm on Saturday, December 28.
Two men have now been arrested in connection with the incident, a 26-year-old, on suspicion of arson, and a 28-year-old, on suspicion of affray.
Those on board included people from the Hartlepool Mail’s readership area.
Humber Coastguard was contacted and told a fire had broken out in one of the passenger accommodation blocks but that it had been brought under control.
The Bridlington and Filey RNLI lifeboats were sent to the scene, along with the search and rescue helicopters from RAF Leconfield and RAF Boulmer.
The casualties winched from the ferry were airlifted to Scarborough hospital suffering from smoke inhalation.
Passenger Joe Hilton, 22, a sports science student from Bilingham, said: “I was traumatised, I haven’t slept.
“We were treated like animals on that boat. We didn’t get any food until about 7am on the morning and all they gave us was beans and egg.
“It was that bad I haven’t been to sleep. I was worried about going on the lifeboat
“We were on deck nine and and the fire happened on five. I went to the toilet and I could smell smoke. The smell had come all the way though the corridor at that point.”
His friend, Josh Worton, 21, a quantity surveyor from Billingham, added: “We docked at 4am but were not allowed off the ferry.
“I kept asking staff when we would be allowed off but nobody would tell us anything.
“We are from near Middlesborough so we needed to organise a lift home.
“We were told the police were going to interview everyone but not one person was interviewed at all. We just had to wait.”
A spokesperson for Northumbria Police confirmed the arrests and said: “We received a report from the Coastguard at around 12.05am on Sunday, December 29, of a suspected arson onboard a ferry in the North Sea.
“Officers from Northumbria Police are working with DFDS Seaways and other partners to assist with the situation.”
The boat was forced to return to North Shields in the early hours of Sunday morning.
It is understood passengers were questioned about the incident on board by police after the ferry docked in the port.
Fifteen passengers and eight crew had suffered from smoke inhalation and were checked over by a doctor on the ferry.
Two passengers and four crew members were winched from the boat by RAF helicopters, around 30 miles from Flamborough head.
A spokesperson for DFDS Seaways said: “A fire broke out in a passenger cabin on the DFDS Seaways cruise ferry King Seaways, which was en route from Newcastle to Amsterdam.
“The incident happened at around about 10.45pm and crew acted quickly to contain the fire, which was extinguished within 15 minutes.
“We can confirm that there were 946 passengers and 127 crew members onboard.
“Fifteen passengers and eight crew members are reported to have suffered from smoke-related injuries.
“They have been checked by a doctor onboard, and two passengers and four crew members have been taken ashore by helicopter for further medical assistance at a local hospital in the UK.
“The ship returned to Newcastle at around 4.30am and an investigation is currently underway by Northumbria Police, who are in control of the vessel.
“We can confirm that passengers are now starting to disembark the ferry in North Shields.
“For any queries relating to the incident, customers can call 0844 848 6090.”