The vessel, operated by local firm White Island Tours, was carrying 53 passengers and seven crew members caught fire off the bar at Whakatane, New Zealand. No casualties were reported. Four people were taken to a hospital. One case of smoke inhalation and one injury sustained while abandoning ship were reported, but all passengers and crew survived.
Passengers who survived said that the fire started in the ship’s cabin filled with noxious smoke. On the captain’s instructions to abandon ship, the passengers started evacuating with their life jackets into the water and into the vessel’s dinghies.
Elaine Rogocki, a passenger from the U.K., said, “It was so frightening . . . I had to watch the boat fire get bigger, while she was still on it, then [she] puked all over the rescue boat from being seasick,”.
Roger White, who was working on Whakatane Head at the time of the incident, told that the vessel “burnt down to the waterline” following the evacuation
Source: NZ Herald