The struggling company has ceased its operations between its base in Ostend and Ramsgate in England.

Unions said they had had no confirmation, but had been invited to a meeting on Friday for an explanation of the situation.

One of its three vessels, the 26,400-gt Ostend Spirit (built 1984), has been returned to owner P&O Ferries. It is currently laid up in Tilbury.

The mostly Eastern European crew are still on board and vowing not to leave, claiming they have not been paid since Christmas.

Around 25 staff at the company's Ramsgate office were told to go home on Thursday as administrators were called in at the Belgian headquarters

One worker told Kent Online: "Many of us have been here a lot of years and we are all devastated. We are a close-knit team, not just colleagues.

"We are due to be paid this week, but obviously it doesn't look likely that will happen."

The company's website is down.

Reports said interest from an unnamed Italian ferry group had come to nothing.

TransEuropa, owned by a Slovenian company, suspended services on 18 April, citing technical problems.

About 100 people could lose their jobs.

The company is the last to carry passengers and freight on the route.