Australians were amongst the passengers rescued from a London Duck Tours vessel after it caught fire on the Thames (Picture: Phil Beasley-Harling on Twitter — @pbeasleyharling)
AUSTRALIAN tourists were amongst the passengers rescued from a London Duck Tours vessel on the River Thames after it burst into flames.
The amphibious vessel, which can travel on both land and water, was between Vauxhall and Lambeth Bridge in central London when the fire broke out.
Londoner Elissa Wood was on the tour with her parents, who were visiting from Australia.
Ms Wood spotted smoke coming from the boat as they passed Westminster.
”We saw the tour guide and the captain look at each other like ‘this is a real problem’ and then they encouraged us to put life jackets on and jump off,” she told Sky News Australia from the scene.
”It was really hot. The flames were really hot and it was confusing.
”We weren’t sure what was happening so it was scary.”
Around 30 passengers were on the Duck Tours craft when the fire broke out shortly before midday.
Most were believed to be international tourists from Brazil, Sweden and The Netherlands.
Some were forced to jump into the river’s icy waters to escape the flames.
Photos from the scene show passengers in the water and clinging to the side of the boat, before they were rescued by passing tour barges.
A woman and a child were taken to hospital suffering from smoke inhalation, and a man with a minor head injury.
Further tourists were treated for smoke inhalation at the riverside.
London Fire Brigade group manager Neil Withers said: “A number of people jumped into the water but they were soon rescued, and fortunately at this stage it doesn’t look like anyone’s been seriously injured.
“People are clearly cold, wet and in shock but they were pulled from the water really quickly and that’s testament to the work of our firefighters, other emergency rescue teams and others who rushed to the scene to help.”
The London Duck Tours amphibious vessel was badly damaged by the fire. The cause of the fire is not yet known.
The company has suspended its river tours until the cause can be determined.
“London Duck Tours operates to the highest safety standards, and at this early stage it is not possible to speculate on the reason for the incident,” the firm said on its website.
“Until the cause is established, the company will not be operating on the river and should technical or safety modifications be required to our fleet, these will be introduced prior to the service recommencing.”