Scaffolder recalls ‘so scary’ moment billionaire’s ship toppled

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Workers who witnessed the huge boat in Edinburgh nearly topple have described their horror at witnessing such a terrifying situation. The Scottish Ambulance Service said 21 people were taken to hospital following the incident at Leith Docks on Wednesday morning while another 12 were treated and discharged at the scene. 

Now, workers have described what it was like to witness the shocking moment.

James Walsh, 39, and a scaffolder on the docks, was working nearby when he suddenly heard a loud noise.

He described how one of his friends who worked on the boat had left to go to the toilet, and then returned to see it in a precarious situation.

He said: “He had just put his tool bag down and thought ‘I’m going to nip to the toilet’, went away to the toilet, and he said he doesn’t know where his workmates were.”

“It’s scary. Very scary. Just makes you evaluate everything really.

“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.”

Colin Agnew, 33, who also works on the docks, said he and his colleagues were initially unaware of what was going on.

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.”

Port chaplain Pauline Robertson, from the Sailors’ Society, described the incident as “just horrific.”

She added: “Those that witnessed it, it’s so much to take in. It’s surreal in so many ways and it’s a lot to process.”

More to follow…

Local councillor Adam McVey claimed that the toppling of the ship happened because strong winds dislodged it at the docks.

The ship is named The Petrel, and is a 76m research vessel owned by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen’s estate.

Following the incident, Superintendent Mark Rennie of Police Scotland said: “There is no risk to the wider public and inquiries are ongoing to establish the full circumstances of what has happened. The Health and Safety Executive has been informed.”

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