Fire Forces Tourists to Leap from Boat

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(CNN) — People had to leap into the River Thames on Sunday after the amphibious tour boat taking them around London caught fire near Parliament.

“There were flames, and there was lots of black smoke,” Phil Beasley-Harling, an eyewitness, told CNN affiliate ITV. “At one point, it looked as though the boat wasn’t going to survive.”

Amateur video showed several passengers jumping into the water as flames and smoke billowed out from the windows at the front of the London Duck Tours boat, a bright yellow vehicle that takes sightseers around the British capital by road and river.

After reports of the fire were received late Sunday morning, firefighters, a police helicopter and paramedics rushed to the scene. Several people were pulled from the water, and the blaze was eventually extinguished.

Police said all 28 passengers and two crew members on board the vessel were safe.

No one was seriously injured, and three people treated at a London hospital for “minor smoke inhalation ailments” have all been discharged, London Duck Tours said.

Most of the people on board the boat were foreign tourists, ITV reported.

The company and the London Fire Brigade both said the cause of the blaze, which damaged one third of the vessel, was so far unknown.

Borough Cmdr. Alison Newcomb of London’s Metropolitan Police said that the maritime coast guard is investigating.

“At the conclusion of that investigation, I anticipate they will make a decision with regards to future tours,” she told ITV.

London Duck Tours said it has stopped operating tours on the river until the reason for the fire has been established. The company was continuing tours by road on Sunday afternoon, ITV reported.

“Should technical or safety modifications be required to our fleet, these will be introduced prior to the service recommencing,” Duck Tours said, stressing that it “operates to the highest safety standards.”

“London Duck Tours operates a fully modernized fleet of nine vehicles that have been completely rebuilt and refurbished between 2002 and 2012,” it said. “This includes new, purpose built hulls, new engines, computerized systems and steering equipment.”

The company said it was fully cooperating with investigators and regulatory authorities.

–By Jethro Mullen, CNN

–CNN’s Lindsay Isaac contributed to this report.