The fisherman launched his liferaft to escape the multiple explosions

A skipper abandoned his motorboat when a fire caused multiple explosions this morning.

The boat owner had tried fighting the blaze, but abandoned the ‘Margaret Rose‘ eight

miles off Littlehampton harbour entrance when it become engulfed with flames.

Wearing a lifejacket, he took to his liferaft and paddled away from the craft, using his mobile phone to call 999 for help.

Solent Coastguard coordinated a rescue operation to recover the fisherman from his life-raft this morning.

The coastguard search-and-rescue helicopter was deployed from Lee-on-Solent at around 9.30am, along with RNLI lifeboats from Shoreham and Littlehampton.

Littlehampton Lifeboat arrived on scene at 9.49am, coinciding with the

arrival of the coastguard rescue helicopter. The lifeboat crew found

the sole occupant of the fishing boat hunharmed, aboard his liferaft.

He was

recovered from the liferaft by the lifeboat crew and returned to the

lifeboat station. Shoreham Lifeboat remained on scene and stood by the

burning wreck, which has subsequently sunk.

Jenna

Smith, Watch Officer for Solent Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre,

said: ‘This was a very dangerous situation and required a swift

response.

‘The boat was well alight and very hazardous, as it is carrying around 150 litres of diesel and two gas canisters.

‘We continue to monitor the situation and have advised boats to stay away from the immediate vicinity of the incident.’

Pictures: The burning boat as the Littlehampton RNLI lifeboat approached, and the liferaft as it is recovered ashore. Credit: RNLI/Eddie Mitchell.