British couple are left with a €200k bill after their sailboat is struck by a flare during New Year celebrations on Spain’s Costa Blanca

THREE reckless Ukrainian merchant seamen threw around emergency flares to celebrate the New Year at the port of Alicante and set fire to a British-owned sailboat.

An estimated €200,000 of damage was done to the Maori- a wooden craft built in Scotland over a century ago.

It was moored at the Real Club de Regatas and employees along with Alicante firefighters prevented the blaze from totally destroying the boat and spreading to other craft.

The owners of the Maori are a UK couple who flew over to Alicante urgently as soon as they heard about the New Year’s Eve incident.

The boat was not fully insured and so the owners will have to shell out a large sum for repairs while they claim compensation from the three men in court.

The damage was confined to its wooden deck and regatta club workers said that if one of the flares hit struck a fibre boat, then the blaze would have spread quickly and damaged other craft.

The three detained Ukrainians aged between 20 and 35 were part of the crew of the merchant vessel, Oppland, sailing under a Portuguese flag.The Policia Nacional found five flares on the men and inside a nearby rubbish bin.

The trio were bailed after a court appearance on Tuesday with one of the group admitting that he was responsible for throwing a flare.

Their release was not opposed by the public prosecutor or the lawyer acting on behalf of the British couple, with the sailors returning to the Oppland for its journey to Sweden.

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