LONDON - About 30 tourists cruising the River Thames on a Duck Tours boat found themselves in a dramatic rescue operation after the amphibian vessel caught fire just before noon on Sunday.
"The incident happened on the river right next to the Houses of Parliament," said the London Fire Brigade, which was called at 11.55am and brought the fire under control by 12.10pm.
In its official statement, it said that around 15 passengers jumped into the water and were quickly rescued. In a tweet from its official account earlier on, the brigade had said that it was thought that around 30 people had jumped into the water.
All passengers have been accounted for by the authorities, according to a Sky News report.
"People are clearly cold, wet and in shock but they were pulled from the water really quickly and that’s testament to the work of our firefighters, other emergency rescue teams and others who rushed to the scene to help," said Group Manager for the London Fire Brigade Neil Withers in the statement.
“The casualties, who are tourists, are being looked after by the London Ambulance Service and firefighters, who are keeping them warm and making them cups of tea. The damaged boat was pulled away from the scene by our fire boat and a full investigation into exactly what happened will now be taking place,” he added.
The London Ambulance Service confirmed on its official Twitter account that it had been at the rescue scene "treating 30 patients following duck boat fire", adding that they were "mostly wet & cold after spending 10 mins in the water".
The London Ambulance Service also said that seven of the passengers received treatment for smoke inhalation while one man and one woman have been taken to hospital with minor injuries.
The Port of London Authority is expected to open investigations into the incident.
The London Duck Tours start on land, departing from Chicheley Street just behind the London Eye and goes past landmarks such as Big Ben and Trafalgar Square before the ambhibious tour vehicles launch into the Thames.
Popularly known as "Ducks", the vehicles are modified from landing craft originally used for the D-Day landings in 1944.