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London Duck Tours suspends River Thames trips after fire

  • 9-30-2013

An amphibious tourist boat company has suspended operations on the River Thames after one of its vessels caught fire.

Thirty people were rescued from the London Duck Tours craft on Sunday afternoon by the emergency services and a passing tourist boat.

A statement on the firm's website said it would run a land only service.

A rescuer said one passenger told her that people found it "difficult" to get the life jackets out of their packets.

Three people were taken to hospital "as a precaution" following the incident.

In a statement on the London Duck Tours website, managing director John Bigos said: "The company acknowledges the distressing situation experienced by our passengers.

"However, we are pleased to report that all persons involved in the incident are safe and well.

"London Duck Tours operates to the highest safety standards, and at this early stage it is not possible to speculate on the reason for the incident.

"Until the cause is established, the company will not be operating on the river and should technical or safety modifications be required to our fleet, these will be introduced prior to the service recommencing."

'Fear and terror'

Mr Bigos said the incident should not be compared with the sinking of two amphibious vehicles, operated by another company, in Liverpool's Albert Dock in June, as his company's procedures were of a "higher standard".

"London Duck Tours operates a fully modernised fleet of nine vehicles that have been completely rebuilt and refurbished between 2002 and 2012. This includes new, purpose built hulls, new engines, computerised systems and steering equipment," he added.

Emily Farrelly, who was on a passing tourist boat with her family, said she saw "billowing smoke" and passengers in the water.

"You could see the fear and terror in their eyes," she said.

It was lucky the craft was close to the bank and many of the passengers were able to stand in waist-high water, she said.

Ms Farrelly added: "I think they were just in sheer panic at first and struggled to get [the life jackets] out.

"I spoke to one gentleman that got on to our boat and he said that getting the life jackets out of the packet was so difficult that they just fled the boat and got off because their safety was more important."

London Duck tours is yet to respond to the claims about life jackets.

Read More …......

Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2013 BBC


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