A clean-up operation has begun after a superyacht caught fire and sank in a marina, with about nine tonnes of diesel on board.

The cause of the fire on the 85ft (26m) boat at Princess Pier in Torquay, Devon, is currently being treated by police as unexplained.

Police declared a major incident and evacuated a nearby beach and roads.

Torquay’s harbourmaster said he was “very confident” the “majority” of fuel and debris would be contained.

Rob Parsons told the BBC contractors had laid three booms around the boat and were skimming the area inside, sucking the diesel out and transferring it away in tankers.

He said: “She actually sank in a way that was very helpful, believe it or not – so she went straight down.

“Overnight I was concerned but the wind has been in our favour – it’s pushed it, it’s kept it all together against the wall, so I’m very confident at the moment that we have the majority of it.”

Mr Parson said he was unable to confirm the name of the yacht or the owner.

Karen Baxter, from the Environment Agency (EA), said the clean-up operation was being led by the Harbourmaster’s Authority, supported by the EA.

“We understand there’s probably around nine tonnes of diesel onboard the yacht,” she said.

“We’ll be working with the contractors to try and clean up as much diesel as we possibly can.”

She added it was “too early to assess” what the impact of the spill would be on wildlife and water quality.

The boat, which police said broke from its mooring, was secured by the fire service near the marina’s pier before it sank at about 16:00 BST.

Torbay Coastguard Rescue Team said a “large crowd of onlookers were evacuated from the pier” and that the RNLI helped a small number of people to safety “who were trapped by heavy smoke at the end of the pier”.

Devon & Cornwall Police said no-one was reported injured but nearby residents were advised to keep windows and doors shut “due to the levels of smoke and fumes”.

A spokesperson for the force said: “The Harbourmaster supported by the Environmental Agency will look to safely recover the vessel in due course.”

Steve Darling, leader of Torbay Council, said: “Perhaps the biggest impact that people will see initially is having to close the pier due to the fire damage”.

He said the pier was a “very good platform” for viewing the English Riviera Airshow which will take place over the June bank holiday weekend, and that assessments would be made on Monday to decide how much if any can reopen.

Extracted in full from: Diesel clean-up after major superyacht fire in Torquay harbour – BBC News