Video Shows Passengers Leap Into Sea From Thai Ferry Engulfed in Flames

YouTube via Associated Press
YouTube via Associated Press

Viral footage has captured the moment scores of passengers on a ferry in Thailand abandoned ship as the boat carrying them became engulfed in flames—a terrifying ordeal that had a relatively happy ending, with no lives lost.

The blaze broke out on a boat in the Gulf of Thailand on Thursday morning, sending its 108 people on board—many of whom were reported to be backpacking tourists—jumping for their lives.

The vessel was an early-morning ferry that left Thailand’s Surat Thani province bound for the popular tourist destination Koh Tao, which has eerily been nicknamed “Death Island” for a pair of tourist murders there in 2014. All seemed fine on the 62-mile voyage until one passenger heard a crackling sound and smelled smoke, those on board told the Associated Press.

Within five minutes, Maitree Promjampa told the wire service there was smoke billowing and a fire spreading. Chaos ensued, with passengers diving into the ocean to avoid being burned.

“We could barely get the life vests in time,” he said. “It was chaotic. People were weeping… I also teared up.”

The ferry had 97 passengers and 11 crew members, all of whom survived the ordeal, the province’s public relations department said. Promjampa told the AP that several boats came to their rescue about 20 minutes after the blaze broke out, but many were hesitant to get too close to the burning ferry as it was prone to explode at any second.

“Everyone had to help themselves,” he said.

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The flames were eventually put out and the boat did not sink, the AP reported. Local officials said the fire broke out in the engine room, but an exact cause won’t be known until a probe is completed.

Chokchai Sutthimek, the superintendent of the Koh Tao Police Station, said that both Thai and foreign nationals were on the ferry, which was operated by an all-Burmese boat crew. He confirmed that some passengers fled the flames by jumping overboard. The ferry was also carrying cargo, including vehicles, videos showed.

Sutthimek said some passengers suffered minor injuries from smoke inhalation, but nothing more.

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