TWO crewmen were airlifted to Dorset County Hospital with facial injuries after an air pipe exploded on a ship 35 miles south of Portland.

The two men, from the Philippines, were on board the Netherland-based cargo ship the Happy Dragon when the incident happened shortly before 10.30am this morning, leaving them with serious but not life-threatening facial injuries.

Portland Coastguards tasked the rescue helicopter from Lee-on-Solent to rescue the two men, as the Portland Rescue Helicopter was in maintenance, and the helicopter airlifted them to DCH for treatment.

A spokesman for Portland Coastguard said: “We were informed of an explosion on board a ship approximately 35 miles south west of Portland Bill by the French Coastguards.

“Unfortunately, the Portland Rescue Helicopter was in service so we requested the help of the helicopter from Lee-on-Solent and they went to the ship.

“Two men on board, engineers from the Philippines, suffered fairly serious facial injuries and had to be airlifted to Dorset County Hospital for treatment.

“It is believed the explosion was an air pipe explosion.”

The ship was on route from Aberdeen to Trieste in Italy and it is believed the ship has continued on its route.