A fire which swept through the famous 19th Century ship Cutty Sark may have been started deliberately, police say. The ship, which was undergoing a £25m restoration, is kept in a dry dock at Greenwich in south-east London.
An area around the 138-year-old tea clipper had to be evacuated when the fire broke out in the early hours. A Cutty Sark Trust spokesman said much of the ship had been removed for restoration and the damage could have been worse.
Half the planking and the masts had been taken away as part of the project.
The chief executive of the charitable Cutty Sark Trust, Richard Doughty, said: "What is special about Cutty Sark is the timbers, the iron frames that went to the South China Seas, and to think that that is threatened in any way is unbelievable, it's an unimaginable shock."
Following an inspection of the site on Monday afternoon, Mr Doughty said: "Buckling of the hull remains a big fear but until we do the measurements we are not going to know.
"With my naked eye, as far as I have been able to see, the structure of the ship seems to be intact."
Police are analysing CCTV images which are thought to show people in the area shortly before the fire started.
A number of witnesses have already come forward and the police are urging anyone else who may have been in the area to contact them.
A silver car was seen leaving the scene but police say there is nothing at this stage to link it to the fire.