All 60 passengers saved from boat fire off New Zealand coast

All 53 passengers and seven crew members forced overboard after their boat goes up in flames off New Zealand coast

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

People stand on the shoreline as a tourist boat carrying 60 people burns out at sea off the coast of Whakatane, New Zealand, Monday, Jan 18, 2016. All 60 people forced overboard after the tourist boat caught fire Monday have been rescued

All 60 people forced overboard after their tourist boat caught fire Monday off the coast of New Zealand have been rescued, according to authorities.

Police spokeswoman Kim Perks said the fire aboard the vessel "PeeJay" broke out as it was returning from White Island to the town of Whakatane.

She said all 53 passengers and seven crew members were forced overboard to escape the fire and smoke.

She said one passenger and one crew member were taken to a local hospital after suffering from minor injuries and smoke inhalation.

Perks said the boat was about 1 kilometre (0.6 miles) from shore when authorities were first notified of the incident, and they called on nearby boats to assist.

She said the PeeJay crew then sent a mayday to say they were abandoning ship.

Perks said four charter vessels and the New Zealand Coastguard were able to get the scene quickly and rescue everybody. She said the PeeJay later sank.

White Island, 50 kilometres (31 miles) off the North Island coast, is volcanically active and popular with tourists.

White Island Tours, which operated the tourist boat, was not immediately available for comment.

AP, TRTWorld and agencies