OVER 40 people, mostly elderly tourists from China, have been rescued after having to jump to safety from a burning boat over the Great Barrier Reef off the central Queensland coast today.
The 42 tourists and four crew were forced to abandon ship when a fire started in the engine room of the catamaran they were aboard.
The catamaran, called the Spirit of 1770, was 10 nautical miles from Lady Musgrave Island, east of Gladstone, on Wednesday evening when the fire broke out and engulfed the boat.
The survivors were able to seek refuge on life rafts while waiting to be rescued. Eleven people have been hospitalized and are still recovering from the ordeal.
— Jonathan Lea (@JonathanLea10) May 12, 2016
Queensland police said in a statement: “Of the 46 people on board, 19 received treatment for non-life threatening injuries at hospitals in Bundaberg and Gladstone.”
Investigations into the incident are still ongoing, they added. The tourists were mostly from China, with others from Canada, New Zealand, and Britain.
Gladstone police inspector Darren Somerville told ABC Radio the tourists were terrified and transferring them back to shore took some time.
“It was terrifying for all of them, we’re just thankful that everyone is accounted for and no one suffered any major injuries,” he said.
According to the Guardian, a senior operations supervisor for the Queensland Ambulance Service, Michael Lowe, said majority of those rescued were suffering from hypothermia and seasickness, and some had rib fractures, back and chest pains.