London: Thirty people have been rescued after an amphibious bus caught fire on the river Thames opposite the Houses of Parliament in central London.
Firefighters were alerted to the blaze on a London Duck just before midday yesterday and a fire boat was dispatched. Many of the 28 passengers on board the vehicle jumped into the Thames to escape the flames and were rescued by police, the fire brigade and a passing boat.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan police said all the passengers and both crew members had been accounted for, while the London ambulance service said seven people were being treated for smoke inhalation and one woman had been taken to hospital with minor injuries. In a tweet, it added that most of those being treated at the scene were wet and cold after spending 10 minutes in the water.
A London fire brigade spokeswoman said: “We were called at 11.55am. One boat was 30 percent damaged by fire and approximately 30 people were rescued by a passing tourist boat. They were removed to Lambeth pontoon and everyone is accounted for.”
She added that the fire had been extinguished by the fire boat.
Neil Withers, the fire brigade’s group manager, said: “A number of people jumped into the water but they were soon rescued, and fortunately at this stage it doesn’t look like anyone’s been seriously injured.
“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.”
A spokesman for London Duck Tours was not able to comment on the fire or say whether the company would be suspending its excursions.
A statement on the company’s website says: “Our Ducks have been modified to meet stringent safety regulations set by road and river authorities. Each vehicle seats 30 passengers, has a public address system and is fitted with full and comprehensive safety equipment.”