Death Island ferry fire: Terrified tourists leap into waters off Thailand: video

A ferry carrying nearly 100 tourists caught fire in Thailand early Thursday, forcing some of them to jump overboard in fear while others were saved by a rescue boat.

The boat was on its way to the island of Koh Tao, a tourist hot spot known as “Death Island,” when the fire broke out in the engine room of the vessel, which was packed with 97 tourists and 11 Burmese boat crew members. All 108 survived.

Dramatic video shows the boat – which was loaded with cargo, at least two vehicles and several mopeds – on fire and becoming engulfed with smoke as terrified passengers flee to the upper floors wearing orange life jackets waiting to be rescued.

Ferry in Thailand catches fire

A ferry in Thailand catches fire (Viral Press)

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Some jumped overboard to escape the hellish inferno with the flames eventually consuming the whole vessel, named the “Ko Jaroen 2” ferry.

Several passengers were taken to hospital for smoke inhalation.

Police Colonel Chokchai Sutthimek, superintendent of the Koh Tao Police Station, said the vessel was mid-sea and approaching the pier at Koh Tao at around 6:30 a.m. local time when the fire broke out.

“The fire originated in the engine room while the boat was mid-sea and approaching the pier at Koh Tao, causing panic among passengers, some of whom jumped overboard,” Sutthimek said.

The ferry after evacuation from a fire

A ferry caught fire in Thailand Thursday with more than 100 people on board. All survived.  (Viral Press)

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“After receiving the report from authorities and boat operators at Koh Tao, we swiftly dispatched a rescue boat to evacuate all passengers and crew back to the coast. Some of them suffered minor injuries from smoke inhalation.”

Sutthimek said the vessel is a ferry that also serves as a cargo boat. 

Officers said that all 108 people were safely returned to shore while authorities towed the damaged ferry back to the pier.

Aow Luek bay on the southern coastline of Ko Tao, Thailand.

An aerial view of Aow Luek bay on the southern coastline of Ko Tao, Thailand. (Stephen J. Boitano/LightRocket via Getty Images)

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An investigation has now been launched to determine the cause of the fire.

The island of Koh Tao was dubbed Death Island following the murders of British backpackers Hannah Witheridge and David Miller in 2014. Previous cases of tourist deaths emerged and there have been several unexplained deaths of tourists since, leading to the island being branded as “cursed.”

The fire comes two days after a vacation hosueboat was also engulfed in flames in southern Thailand as it was approaching the Thap Lamu Pier in Phang Nga province. No injuries were reported in that fire as only one person, who managed to jump into the water to escape, was onboard at the time.

Reuters contributed to this report. 

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