Sixteen people were taken to hospital after a tourist boat fire suffering hypothermia, sea sickness and shock. Rescue crews were able to save all 46 tourists who had to jump for their lives, when the boat exploded. The catamaran, “Spirit of 1770,” was off Lady Musgrave Island when it began to sink.

Tegan Atkins reports.


It was once a tourist boat, now it’s wreckage on the bottom of the Great Barrier Reef.

The Spirit of 1770 was returning from the Island when flames took hold.

Gemma Sargent, English Tourist: “All of a sudden the captain goes get off the boat and I’m looking at him thinking how? He’s like get off the boat, jump.”

This was the view from the mainland, a billow of smoke.

On board, passengers were highly distressed.

But all made it to life-rafts, then waited hours as rescuers tried to reach them.

Maja Svensson, Swedish Tourist: “I was thinking like well what if no one shows up? Because it took so long.”

It was an abrupt end to what should have been a positive Aussie experience for tourists on board.

Inspector Darren Somerville, Queensland Police: It was terrifying for all of them. We’re just thankful everyone was accounted for and no one has suffered any major injuries.

Police are investigating why the boat’s engine exploded.

Tegan Atkins, QUT News.