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SEA DISASTER: Passengers jumped from burning boat

FERRY PATIENTS: Face in Bundaberg Hospital window. Photo: Craig Warhurst / NewsMail
FERRY PATIENTS: Face in Bundaberg Hospital window. Photo: Craig Warhurst / NewsMail Craig Warhurst

WHAT WE KNOW

  • Lady Musgrave Cruise's catamaran Spirit of 1770 caught fire just before 4pm.
  • 42 passengers and four crew were on board.
  • The fire started in the engine room.
  • The boat was 10 nautical miles east of Seventeen Seventy.
  • Most aboard the vessel were reported to be Chinese, New Zealand and Canadian nationals staying in Bundaberg. 
  • At 4.30pm all aboard jumped into life rafts heading to shore.
  • Emergency services have set up a triage centre at Seventeen Seventy.
  • Eight passengers discharged from Bundaberg Hospital 

 

 

UPDATE 11AM:

Life rafts back at marina 

The life rafts that passengers and crews from Spirit of 1770 had to swim to yesterday afternoon were brought back to the marina just after midnight.

Last night passengers said they had to jump off the sinking tourist boat and swim to the life rafts.

While on the rafts many became seasick during the six-hour wait before they returned back to the 1770 Marina.

UPDATE 10AM: 

Bundaberg Hospital staff made sure passengers were safe and warm

Sue Vanderberg, nursing unit manager of Bundaberg Hospital emergency ward, says staff worked hard to ensure the warmth and comfort of the Spirit of 1770 passengers who left hospital today. 

"They were quite impressed with everyone," Ms Vanderberg said. 

"I think it was a relief for them that we gave them warm blankets and got their wet clothes off and warmed them up, fed them, assessed them, did some observations and everything and then settled them in and they had a little bit of a sleep till morning."

She said the passengers, who were older Chinese nationals, had come through their ordeal with minimal injuries. 

"They looked a lot happier this morning, a lot more relieved," she said. 

FERRY PATIENTS: The bus load of tourists leave from the Bundaberg Hospital. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
FERRY PATIENTS: The bus load of tourists leave from the Bundaberg Hospital. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott

"They'd been in the water so they were all wet and quite nauseated and vomiting.

"They had lots of bruises as they'd been in the water and up the ropes into the life boats."

UPDATE 9.30AM:

Three still in Gladstone Hospital 

Three Spirit of 1770 passengers remain at the Gladstone Hospital.

They are all in a stable condition.

Two of the patients are aged in their 50s and another in their 60s.

The Spirit of 1770 up in flames. Photo: Courier Mail
The Spirit of 1770 up in flames. Photo: Courier Mail

UPDATE 9AM: 

Member for Burnett thanks rescuers 

Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett has taken to Facebook to thank all those involved in the Spirit of 1770 rescue. 

Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett. Photo: contributed
Member for Burnett Stephen Bennett. Photo: contributed contributed

"A huge congratulations to all involved in the swift and safe rescue of 42 passengers and four crew on board Lady Musgrave Cruises' Spirit of 1770 after it caught fire yesterday," Mr Bennett said.

"What an amazing effort by all involved, including police, ambulance, VMR, Careflight, and the 1770 LARC! Tours which sent out boats and local charter boats to help.

"A shout out to local cafes, particularly the 1770 Marina Cafe team who handed out hot food, drinks and comfort to passengers."

Mr Bennett said he felt proud of the community's actions.

"What an amazing community spirit we have here in the Burnett," he said.

"I'm proud of each and every person involved in the rescue and proud to be part of this incredible community.

"Congratulations again. I believe all passengers are accounted for and there were no reported injuries."

UPDATE 8.30AM:

Helping hand given by locals

UNTIL 11pm last night the 1770 Marina Cafe handed out hot food, coffee and water to passengers and rescuers as they came ashore from the sinking Spirit of 1770.

Ruth Geck loved the whale watching tour at Hervey Bay. Photo Contributed
Ruth Geck loved the whale watching tour at Hervey Bay. Photo Contributed Contributed

"I was just running backwards and forwards with drinks and food," she said.

"Some of our staff stayed back too to help out."

They handed hot water to Chinese tourists, and Foodworks visited with grocery items like noodles for the cafe to cook and share.

Mrs Geck was shocked by some comments that come from the passengers.

"While it looked quite nice in the marina it sounds like it was quite rough where they were," she said.

"One girl told me she was a good swimmer but by the time she got to the liferaft she was exhausted."

Agnes Water hotels offered the passengers accommodation for the night.

Fishermen also were involved with the rescue mission, taking their boats out to the incident to retrieve the passengers and crew.

Others in the township offered warm blankets and accommodation to those affected by the boat fire. 

Passengers leaving Bundaberg Hospital 

A spokesman for Bundaberg Hospital says eight people have been discharged from the hospital. 

They had been medically assessed, treated and discharged. 

The patients had suffered minor conditions including cold, dehydration, scratches, bruises and lacerations sustained while getting in and out of life boats. 

It's believed the passengers were aged from 61-70. 

UPDATE 7AM THURSDAY: 

Dramatic footage emerges of Spirit of 1770 up in flames 

THE RACQ Careflight Rescue Helicopter has released footage of the burning vessel the Spirit of 1770. 

The footage shows the vessel in flames off the coast. 

Queensland Ambulance Service release statement about boat fire

At around 4pm, paramedics were alerted to a boat fire approximately 10 nautical miles off the shore of the Township of 1770.

The passengers and crew abandoned the boat and were brought ashore by three vessels.

Multiple QAS paramedics responded by setting up a staging area at the 1770 jetty to receive the 42 passengers and crew arriving  ashore at around 9.15pm.

All patients were triaged with 23 passengers immediately passing through the marshalling area.

The remaining 19 passengers were further assessed and treated for mild exposure and dehydration.

UPDATE 6.30AM THURSDAY: 

Passenger tells of feeling sick after ordeal 

A CHINESE tourist who was rescued from the boat that caught fire off the coast of Agnes Water last night has tried to explain the ordeal.

The tourist, who has little English speaking ability, said it was "not good" and gestured to show he had been sea sick throughout the wait to come to shore.

Passengers were stuck on life rafts from shortly before 4pm until late in the evening until they were finally transferred to a crabbing boat and a VMR vessel.

It's yet known why it took that amount of time to get the passengers to shore.

It's understood most of the passengers were Chinese, New Zealand, and Canadian nationals. 

Tourist bus turns ambulance after rescue 

QUEENSLAND Ambulance Service commandeered a tourist bus to transport 16 patients to Bundaberg Hospital from the sinking ship Spirit of 1770.

There were another three patients taken to Gladstone Hospital by ambulance.

All patients were in a stable condition but very shaken, scared and seasick after the ordeal.

Gladstone Police Investigator Darren Somerville said the 46 passengers on the boat were terrified, with some not knowing how to swim.

UPDATE 10:05: A FIRE truck that was at the marina in Agnes Water got stuck when the tide rose over its front wheels this evening. 

 Emergency crews are using a LARC to tow it out of the water and up the boat ramp. A fire truck got stuck at the bottom of the boat ramp at Agnes Water when the tide rose over its front wheels.

A fire truck got stuck at the bottom of the boat ramp at Agnes Water when the tide rose over its front wheels.

Dozens of police cars, ambulances, and fire trucks have been waiting for passengers to arrive at the marina since this afternoon.

UPDATE 9.50PM: ALL of the passengers are off the rescue boats and are being treated by paramedics. Some of the elderly patients are in shock but there are no serious injuries

 EARLIER 9.45PM: AROUND 20 passengers have arrived to the marina at Agnes Water. The passengers, many of which are elderly, are wet and appear to be worn out.  

First passengers back to shore after the boat they where on caught fire this evening. May 11th, 2016
First passengers back to shore after the boat they where on caught fire this evening. May 11th, 2016 Paul Braven

UPDATE 9pm: THE first passengers who were rescued from the burning boat off Lady Musgrave Island have arrived on what appears to be a small fishing boat at the Agnes Water Marina.

  Elderly people are being escorted off the fishing boat first. Police are checking passengers off a list of passengers before they walk off the jetty.

Emergency services stationed at 1770 await the arrival of passengers aboard a ferry which caught fire this afternoon. May 11, 2016
Emergency services stationed at 1770 await the arrival of passengers aboard a ferry which caught fire this afternoon. May 11, 2016 Paul Braven

8pm:

PASSENGERS who have been rescued from a burning boat won't be on shore for at least another hour.

The passengers are currently on life rafts and are waiting to be transferred to three rescue boats, which will then bring them to shore.

7.10PM

LISTEN: Witness says it's the "biggest thing I've seen here".

A RESIDENT from Agnes Water, Wayne "Grom" Mellick, said he was standing and watching the scene as it unfolded.

He said there were a number of boats and a helicopter but it was hard to see as it was a long way out to sea.

"It's the biggest thing I've seen here as in emergency services around the marina," he said.

"Half a dozen if not more ambulance on the scene... with more coming.

"It's pretty awful, really awful actually." 

 6.40PM:

GLADSTONE Water Police are co-ordinating a search and rescue operation following a fire on a catamaran this afternoon about 10 nautical miles east of Seventeen Seventy.

Just before 4pm, a commercial passenger vessel carrying 46 people, including crew, caught fire in the engine area.

Most aboard the vessel were reported to be Chinese nationals.

At 4.30pm, the vessel was abandoned and all passengers and crew were placed onto life rafts.

Gladstone Water Police are co-ordinating the surface rescue with PV Kidd while AMSA have provided a helicopter and a fixed-wing aircraft.

Police will start transporting passengers to land at Seventeen Seventy, where they will be medically assessed.

All passengers are accounted for and there are no reports of injuries except sea sickness.

6.20pm: 

A LARGE-scale rescue operation is underway off the coast of Agnes Water.

A witness on the scene has said he could see a "red glow" out to sea as the boat, which caught on fire this afternoon, continues to burn. 

6PM: IT'S been confirmed Lady Musgrave Cruise's Spirit of 1770 vessel is the boat on fire off Lady Musgrave Island.

Bundaberg police are on the way to help with the rescue.

Bundaberg Patrol Group Inspector Pat Swindells said his role would be to manage the rescue operation and help passengers.

"We've sent four units from Bundaberg to assist Gladstone and Agnes Water," he said.

Inspt Swidells said he was currently on his way to Seventeen Seventy.

 5.55pm A QUEENSLAND ambulance spokeswoman said the effort to rescue the 42 people on board was headed by the Volunteer Marine Rescue. 

"Reports indicate the fire started in the engine room," the spokeswoman said.   

5.50pm AN AGNES Water man said he heard reports a boat full of people was on fire at about 4.15pm. 

He said that the boat could not been seen from the beach but heard a number of people had gone to the headland and could see the smoke.   

"The LARC sent two boats out and all the local charter boats went out to help," he said.  

"VMR also went to assist."  

It is believed shops along the shore line will stay open to cater for those in need.

No Caption
No Caption Carolyn Booth

 5.40pm 

REPORTS have come from local boaties that all crew and passengers are safe. 

Local vessel have been assisting with the rescue. 

"I heard they had to abandon ship," they said. 

"I'm just glad they are safe."

 

 

 

5.33PM: A RACQ CareFlight spokeswoman said a crew had been sent out to the incident just 10 nautical miles off the coast of Lady Musgrave Island, for air support.

"What we know so far is that there are people on life rafts," RACQ CareFlight media PR executive Simone Cunningham said.

"A freight company has been sent in as support."

"There are no reports of injuries at this stage."
 

5.10PM  Lady Musgrave Experience have confirmed the boat was not one of theirs.

"We have heard just that over the marine radio this afternoon. We don't know anything more than that. It's not us," a spokeswoman said. 

Initial thoughts are the boat on fire may be the Spirit of 1770.

It is believed one of the vessels from the Spirit of 1770 fleet.
It is believed one of the vessels from the Spirit of 1770 fleet. Kerry Thomas

EARLIER: A BOAT carrying about 40 people has burst into flames off the coast near Bundaberg this afternoon.

According to the Courier Mail it is understood the fire broke out in the engine room of a large catamaran about 3.50pm.

The 23-metre-long boat is reportedly slowing sinking 10 nautical miles off the coast of Lady Musgrave Island.

The 42 people on board are understood to be jumping into lifeboats and rafts with no reported injuries so far.

Two paramedics are on scene with the Volunteer Marine Rescue crew.

Topics:  boat lady musgrave sinking



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