Dive Boat with 19 Tourists on Board Erupts Into Flame
Tonight a boat worth more than half a million dollars is at the bottom of the sea and 19 tourists are lucky to be alive after a fire at sea. It occurred yesterday afternoon near Lighthouse Reef where the tourists were on a dive tour. The divers had just finished lunch when the boat experienced engine trouble. Tonight we have the full story, including pictures which will make you wonder how anyone made it off that boat alive.
Keith Swift Reporting,
These still photos capture the dramatic images of the boat being devoured by fire out in the middle of the open seas. The double decked boat – belonging to Amigos Del Mar - was carrying 19 tourists and 4 crew members on a dive expedition near Lighthouse Reef when its engine erupted into flames.
The pictures were taken by Nils Iinklan and his wife Pamela Maze who were on the boat along with 17 other tourists.
Kathy Mowvley, Passenger on Burning Boat
“The crew noticed a loss of power in one of the engines and then we heard a bang from the engine room, like a fan belt or a pistol going through the engine or something. Grey smoke started coming out and then black smoke.”
Nadine Cote, Passenger on Burning Boat
“I just thought there was engine trouble, didn’t think there was any fire down there. It can happen at anytime anywhere. We weren’t too concerned until we started seeing thick black smoke.”
Pamela Maze, Passenger on Burning Boat
“At first we thought it was just a minor puff of smoke, of fire. We didn’t know there was actual fire until we saw the flames. It was very fast. Basically we were just trying to get as far away from the boat as we could and watching it in flames was quite an experience I have to say but we were more concerned about the safety of everybody around us.”
Were you frightened?
“Of course. You are always frightened in that kind of situation. We were more frightened on the boat when the fire started and it happened so quickly. We were just so lucky that the crew was very fast on helping us get on our BCDs and get in the water with out scuba gear.”
David Cote, Passenger on Burning Boat
“We ended up going to the bow of the boat, because the smoke had filled the cabin, and then we started seeing flames coming out of the side of the boat and so the captain started giving everybody life jackets and everybody started jumping off the boat because the boat was engulfed in flames.”
All 19 tourists onboard and 4 crew members safely evacuated the boat and watched from a distance the fire consumed it. The tourists were picked up by a crew from Aqua Dive Shop who had heard the explosion and responded to help.
Julio Perez, Aqua Dive
“They said they overheard an explosion on one of the boats that works out there and they decided to help the divers that were on the boat; rescued them and put them on a dock out there.”
This afternoon - a day after their dance with death – these tourists literally toasted to life. They say it could have been much worse and they are happy they made it out alive.
“The escape was very well organized. Really in that kind of situation, the crew was amazing, got us out safely and everyone around us helped us. It was an incredible situation and normally in a country far away from our home, that was a great experience and of course we would come back anytime.”
Did this spoil your trip?
“No it was wonderful. This is such a relaxing place to be and that is why we came here. It’s a black spot but it’s not a thing that would make us not come again at all.”
“It added a bit of excitement I guess.”
“No more diving for us.”
“We lost our cameras and a little bit of dive gear and stuff like that but everybody came out alive so that’s the main thing.”
Police are investigating. The boat is valued at $700,000 and was insured.http://www.7newsbelize.com/archive/10260710.html