Passengers escape from burning boat

60 people jumped into the sea to escape from a burning boat. They were all rescued.

The boat was returning from White Island to Whakatane this afternoon. White Island is in the Bay of Plenty, 50 km from Whakatane.

The White Island tour boat carried tourists to visit the island today. There were 53 passengers on board and 7 crew. The 22m boat was about 1km from the shore when a fire started in the engine room and quickly spread. Passengers – both adults and children – jumped into the sea to escape the flames. They were all wearing life jackets.

The coastguard boat, two other boats which belonged to the tour company and many small boats came to the rescue. A helicopter circled above to make sure that everybody was rescued. The burning boat sank after about 2 hours.

Three people were taken to hospital with minor injuries. The managers of the company were very upset but they praised the work of the crew who dealt with the emergency.

Note: White Island has an active submarine volcano. The peak of the mountain is 1,600m above ground but it is much bigger under the sea. Tourists visiting the island can see steam and boiling mud. Scientists monitor it to make sure it is not going to erupt when tourists are visiting.


• coastguard – responsible for safety of boats
• dealt with – managed successfully
• submarine – under the sea
• peak – the top part
• monitor – check regularly
• erupt – blow out volcanic lava and ash

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