Leith Docks: 33 injured - with 15 in hospital - as ship tips at Edinburgh dock, ambulance service says

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Air ambulances, fire crews and police are on the scene at Edinburgh's Leith Docks, as a research ship tilts at a worrying angle

Emergency services have descended on Edinburgh's waterfront, as a research ship threatens to topple onto the dry docks.

A ship in the Imperial Dock in Leith became dislodged from its holding after high winds, and is now tipping towards the dock. Eye-witnesses said that the vessel, named ‘The Petrel, is leaning at a 45-degree angle. Fire crews, police, ambulances and air ambulances are currently in attendance at the scene in Edinburgh.

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The Scottish Ambulance Service has confirmed a total of 33 people were injured when the ship tipped over, and 21 of them were taken to hospital.

A spokesperson said they had dispatched five ambulances, an air ambulance, three trauma teams, a special operations team, three paramedic response units, and a patient transport vehicle to the scene.

The 76-metre-long Petrel, a research vessel, was previously bought and outfitted by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen but is no longer owned by his estate.

Emergency services at Imperial Dock in Leith, Edinburgh, where a ship has become dislodged from its holding and is partially toppled over. (Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)Emergency services at Imperial Dock in Leith, Edinburgh, where a ship has become dislodged from its holding and is partially toppled over. (Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)
Emergency services at Imperial Dock in Leith, Edinburgh, where a ship has become dislodged from its holding and is partially toppled over. (Photo: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire) | PA

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: "Officers and emergency service colleagues are responding to an incident at Imperial Dock in Leith, Edinburgh, whereby a ship on dry dock has become dislodged from its holding. Police were called to attend at around 8.35am on Wednesday, 22 March, 2023 and officers remain at the scene. The public are asked to avoid the area to allow emergency service access”.

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James Walsh, 39, is a scaffolder on the docks who worked nearby to the scene of the incident. He said: “It wasn’t as noisy as you would think, for the catastrophe that it could possibly be.

“We stopped what we were doing. I’m the foreman, so I just evaluated the situation, we were on the docks further up and we were advised we were fine where we were.”

Mr Walsh described the toppling as "very scary", adding: “No-one goes to work to be involved in any kind of accident. It’s so scary that you go to work and something like that can possibly happen.

"It’s bad enough having a near accident, that’s scary enough, or a minimal accident, but something like that in this day and age.”

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His words were echoed by Colin Agnew, another worker on the docks. He said: “We just heard noise and we wondered what it was and then all of a sudden you were hearing all the police, fire engines, and the ambulance come in.

“It was crazy because you wouldn’t think you would hear that down by here. It was just crazy.”

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and the coastguard had also sent rescue teams to the scene.

Local SNP councillor for Leith Adam McVey said the ship became dislodged in strong winds, and described the incident as “terrifying” for those on board. In a Tweet he said: “Emergency services are responding to a major incident at Leith docks – a ship has been dislodged from its holding in strong winds.

He added: “Terrifying for those on board, my thoughts are with those who’ve been injured & hope everyone recovers quickly. Please avoid area."

NHS Lothian has been contacted for comment.