The French ferry Jean Nicoli with 77 passengers was evacuated at the port of Joliette in Marseille after explosion of WWII ammunition on the seabed. The passengers were boarding the ferry at the terminal in Marseille, but heard the noise of explosion and were panicking over the bomb scare. Most of the people thought it is a terrorist attack and jumped overboard on the quay. Fortunately during the panic there were no seriously injured people. All the passengers were evacuated to safe place at the port. The police followed investigation for the source of explosion and estimated that it is WWII ammunition lying in the seabed. It is not yet clear if ferry suffered damage from the explosion, as authorities ordered underwater inspection before return in operations.
“We are moving towards an accidental explosion, we think it’s an ammunition – what type of ammunition is not clear yet”, said Deputy prosecutor of Marseille, Jean-Jacques Fagni. “It must date from the Second World War as it exploded in depth the passage of the boat”, added he.
The French authorities has drafted in heavily armed soldiers and police to its ports due to increased fear of ISIS jihadis terrorist attacks at the ferries and ferry terminals. A bomb squad and dog unit arrived at port of Joliette in Marseille to investigate the cause of the explosion and check for presence of explosives on board. The local authorities heightened risk of a terrorist attack across the Channel.
The ferry Jean Nicoli (IMO: 9161948) has overall length of 200.00 m, moulded beam of 26.00 m and maximum draft of 6.30 m. The deadweight of the vessel is 5,150 DWT and the gross tonnage is 29,968 GRT. The ferry was built in 1998 by Bergen Group Fosen in their shipyard in Rissa, Norway. The ferry is operated and owned by French company SNCM and performing a service to Sardinia.