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60 people jump from burning New Zealand tourist boat

By Amy R. Connolly   |   Jan. 18, 2016 at 11:46 AM

WELLINGTON, New Zealand, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Sixty people were rescued from a burning tourist boat about a mile offshore in New Zealand's Whakatane River.

Whakatane Coastguard and four vessels in the area rushed to the burning boat about 3:45 p.m. Monday as passengers and crew jumped. All were plucked from the waters. A crew member and a passenger were taken to a local hospital as a precaution. The 73-foot boat -- the Pee Jay 5 -- sunk.

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The country's Transport Accident Investigation Commission said it is investigating the fire, which was caught on the coast guard's live camera in the area.

"Police would like to thank the response of local operators who assisted with the rescue and undoubtedly saved the lives of those on board," New Zealand Police said.

Whakatane Mayor Tony Bonne said most of the passenger were tourists, many who lost their passports while jumping into the water.

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