Nearly 100 people who escaped from a burning ship onto life rafts have been rescued.

Falmouth coastguards have been co-ordinating the rescue from The Athena, a 344ft (105m) long factory fishing ship that has been on fire 230 miles south-west of the Isles of Scilly. It had 111 people onboard, including Chinese, Russians, Peruvians and Scandinavians, when the fire started.

Ships in the area were redirected to go and help with the rescue and a cargo vessel picked up 98 crewmembers in the rafts.

The fire is now under control, but 13 people have remained onboard to carry on tackling it. No one is believed to be in immediate danger.

Coastguards were told of the fire just after 6am today.

It broke out in the processing area, while the ship was sailing to the next place to fish.

A search and rescue helicopter from RNAS Culdrose is on the Isles of Scilly, ready to go out to help if needed.

Culdrose spokesman Ian Mackay said the ship was on the limits of where the helicopter could fly.

“If there was a real emergency – if somebody was really badly injured and was desperate to get back – we could go and pick him up. Because of the limited range we wouldn’t be able to pick up many,” he said, adding that in these circumstances they would most likely fly the casualty to France.

The Athena, which is based on the Faroe Islands, was built in 1992.

It has already suffered one fire this year, forcing it to be rebuilt in China.