Sixty rescued after New Zealand tour boat explosion and fire
18 January 2016
Some 53 passengers and seven crew were rescued from a charter vessel off New Zealand’s North Island after the boat’s engine exploded and caught fire on January 18. The 23-metre PeeJay V had been cruising to White Island volcano, 20 miles off shore in the Bay of Plenty, when the accident happened less than a mile from port. Some jumped into rubber lifeboats while others leapt straight into the water as the flames took hold.
Four people were treated in hospital at Whakatane, but it is understood that none was seriously hurt. The owners of the PeeJay V, Peter and Jenny Tait, thanked the authorities for helping to save all those on board. They also praised their staff and the emergency services for their quick actions.
The couple said they were now helping with the investigations into the cause of the blaze.
"We're extremely upset this has occurred and we are trying to come to terms with it. But we're extremely proud of our crew and staff for their efforts -- and thankful to the emergency responders who assisted in the rescue operation."
Police praised the efforts of local boat owners who answered the call to help rescue the passengers and crew. There was an immediate response, with four large vessels and a Coastguard boat at the scene quickly. They "undoubtedly saved the lives of those on board", the police statement said.
Police added that in addition to the boats that went out to help, a helicopter had carried out a sweep of the water to confirm everyone had been rescued.