London Duck boat tours on River Thames halted after fire

Eyewitness Phil Beasley-Harling: "There was a big plume of black smoke"

Related Stories

A tourist boat firm has had its tours on the River Thames suspended after one of its amphibious vessels caught fire, the Maritime & Coastguard Agency said.

Thirty people were rescued from the London Duck Tours (LDT) craft Cleopatra on Sunday afternoon by the emergency services and a passing tourist boat.

A statement on LDT's website earlier said it would run a land-only service.

A rescuer said one passenger told her they had found it "difficult" to get the life jackets out of their packets.

Three people were taken to hospital "as a precaution" following the fire.

A Duck Tours vehicle in Battersea London Duck Tours promotes its vehicles as those used in the D-Day landings in 1944

In a statement on the London Duck Tours website, managing director John Bigos said: "The company acknowledges the distressing situation experienced by our passengers.

"However, we are pleased to report that all persons involved in the incident are safe and well.

"Until the cause is established, the company will not be operating on the river and should technical or safety modifications be required to our fleet, these will be introduced prior to the service recommencing."

Mr Bigos said the incident should not be compared with the sinking of two amphibious vehicles, operated by another company in Liverpool's Albert Dock in June, as his company's procedures were of a "higher standard".

"London Duck Tours operates a fully-modernised fleet of nine vehicles that have been completely rebuilt and refurbished between 2002 and 2012.

"This includes new, purpose-built hulls, new engines, computerised systems and steering equipment," he added.

'Fear and terror'

In 2008 another London Duck Tours craft, Mistress Quickly, caught fire.

Many people jumped into the river from the London Duck Tours craft. Many people jumped into the river from the London Duck Tours craft

A mechanical breakdown led to an electrical fire in the engine. The nine passengers were evacuated to a fire launch.

The Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents' recommendations included making sure fire extinguishers were checked regularly and instructions were placed next to them.

A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), which looks after the implementation of the maritime safety policy in the UK, said: "We are investigating the incident to determine the cause of the fire and what, if any, appropriate further action needs to be taken.

"We have also taken formal action to ensure that the company's other DUKW vessels don't operate while the investigation takes place."

The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) and London Fire Brigade have also begun their own investigations into the incident.

Start Quote

You could see the fear and terror in their eyes”

End Quote Emily Farrelly Rescuer

A Department for Transport spokeswoman said: "We are of course speaking to the MCA and MAIB and it would not be appropriate to comment further until we have a better understanding of the causes of this incident."

A spokeswoman for the Marine Accident Investigation Branch said: "The MAIB is aware of the incident and is investigating.

"This is a live investigation and it would not be appropriate to give a running commentary."

Emily Farrelly, who was on a passing tourist boat with her family on Sunday, said she saw "billowing smoke" and passengers in the water.

"You could see the fear and terror in their eyes," she said.

"It was lucky the craft was close to the bank and many of the passengers were able to stand in waist-high water

"I think they were just in sheer panic at first and struggled to get [the life jackets] out.

"I spoke to one gentleman that got on to our boat and he said that getting the life jackets out of the packet was so difficult that they just fled the boat and got off because their safety was more important."

London Duck tours is yet to respond to the claims about life jackets.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC London

Weather

London

20 °C 10 °C

BBC Local Live

  1.  
    18:00:

    That's all from BBC Local Live today. Join us tomorrow from 08:00 for all the latest news, sport, travel and weather.

     
  2.  
    Easter bonnets and dancing 17:46:

    In this image from 1892, a group of women are wearing their Easter bonnets and dancing on Hampstead Heath during the Bank Holiday break from work.

    Women on Hampstead Heath
     
  3.  
    Dry and mild 17:43:

    It will be a largely dry night, with some clear spells at first, allowing some patchy mist or fog to develop.

    Minimum temperature: 8C (46F).

     
  4.  
    Travel 17:37:

    The A243 is very slow in Chessington because London Fire Brigade are attending to a fire in a shed.

    Get up to date travel information on BBC London Travel News or on Twitter @BBCTravelAlert.

     
  5.  
    Crew member rejoins world race 17:33:

    A crew member from the Derry-Londonderry yacht, who fell overboard in the Pacific Ocean in March, has rejoined the crew.

    Andrew Taylor Andrew Taylor was in the water for 90 minutes before being rescued

    Andrew Taylor, 46, from London, went over the side of the yacht on 30 March while competing in the Clipper round the world race.

     
  6.  
    VIDEO: Donor sister refused visa 17:26:

    Oliver Cameron, a north London plumber who is suffering kidney failure, has been told he may have to wait for three years before a transplant after his sister, who is a perfect donor match, was refused entry to the UK.

    Oliver Cameron

    Keisha Rushton had her request to travel to the UK for the operation refused by the British High Commission on the grounds that she may not return to Jamaica after the operation.

     
  7.  
    Queen's portrait 17:11:

    A portrait of the Queen by photographer David Bailey, who grew up in east London, has been released in honour of her 88th birthday on Monday.

    David Bailey's portrait of the Queen

    The black and white photo, which shows the Queen smiling, was taken at Buckingham Palace in March.

     
  8.  
    Fire shuts central London road 16:46:

    A fire in an electrical sub-station in New Oxford Street has caused the closure of a busy road in central London, London Evening Standard reports.

    Firefighters were called to Castlewood House this afternoon, leading to the closure of a street between Tottenham Court Road and Bloomsbury Street.

     
  9.  
    The Monarch 'gagged' 16:30:

    The poster for the satirical play King Charles III at the Almeida Theatre in Islington this afternoon, with a duct tape on the Prince's mouth. And a censored version of the same at Angel station.

    Poster for King Charles III The poster outside the theatre (left) and the poster at Angel station

    Transport for London said: "The decision was made by our advertising contractor without reference to us and does look to have been a little over enthusiastic".

     
  10.  
    Arsenal win at Hull 16:12:

    Arsenal keep control of their Champions League destiny with a comfortable 3-0 win at Hull.

    Lukas Podolski Lukas Podolski scored two goals

    Lukas Podolski scored two goals for the London side after Aaron Ramsey scored the first goal about half-an-hour into the game.

     
  11.  
    Easter - not a British tradition? 16:04: via Facebook

    Thanks for your comments on your Easter memories.

    Lucan Alan said: "No! Because that's an American pass-time or "tradition" or could it be I'm one of few who remember this is England"

    Vivienne Merryweather responds: "I am not sure this is an American tradition. My mum used to hide our eggs on Easter Sunday when I was a kid and I am now 67! I did it for my children and they did it for theirs etc. we also used to roll hard boiled eggs down a hill near Hampstead Heath."

     
  12.  
    Olympics legacy 15:43:

    BBC World Service tweets: What's the legacy of the #Olympics for those who live near to the main venues? Hear @RebeccaKesby1's #SundayFeature

     
  13.  
    Have your say 15:25:

    Tell us what you think of BBC Local Live. We'd like your feedback about this service.

     
  14.  
    Half-time: Hull v Arsenal 15:10:

    At half-time, Arsenal are two goals up at Hull City.

    Aaron Ramsey scored the opening goal

    Aaron Ramsey scored the first goal 31 minutes into the game while Lukas Podolski scored the second just before half-time.

     
  15.  
    Drug offences 15:06:

    Islington MPS tweets: 18 ppl in custody this morning for drug offences, offensive weapon, assault, affray, possessing stolen moped, burglary (x 3)

     
  16.  
    Easter memories 14:44: via Facebook

    Thanks for your comments on your memories of Easter.

    Elsa Emanuela Stella said: "In Italy we call it colazione di pasqua (Easter breakfast): when you wake up, instead of cappuccino, pizza di formaggio (cheese bread) with salami, boiled eggs and a glass of wine!"

    Colin Johnston said: "Yes we did a Easter egg hunt for the children in Parsloes Park Dagenham....organised by friends of Parsloes Park....good time had by all."

     
  17.  
    In pictures: Passion play 14:22:

    Hundreds of people gathered at Trafalgar Square in central London on Good Friday to watch performances of the Passion of the Christ.

    The play depicted Christ's entry to Jerusalem, his betrayal, capture, trial, crucifixion and resurrection.

    Passion of the Christ
     
  18.  
    Hull v Arsenal 13:47:

    Hull and Arsenal will fight it out at KC Stadium in Hull from 14:05. Follow the live text commentary here.

    The London club were given a "massive scare by Wigan in last week's FA Cup semi-final" football analyst Mark Lawrenson said, hence this match will be very important for them.

     
  19.  
    Quango boss resigns 13:30:

    Responding to the resignation of Tony Caplin as the chairman of the Public Works Loan Board, a Conservative Party spokesman said: "Tony Caplin has no role in the Conservative Party nor is he contributing to the manifesto.

    "He was appointed to a number of public bodies by the previous government. He was re-appointed to the PWLB by the prime minister.

    "He should have declared he was bankrupt. This has been pointed out to him and as a result he has resigned."

     
  20.  
    Lanes blocked 13:14:

    TfL Traffic News tweets: A1261 Aspen Way (E14) W/B approaching Limehouse Link Tunnel - Lns 1 & 2 (of 3) blocked due to a Rd traffic collision.

    Lanes blocked near Limehouse Link Tunnel
     
  21.  
    Easter themed studio 13:00: BBC London 94.9 Radio

    Tony Blackburn (@tonyblackburn) is now live till 3pm! Live streaming from his Easter themed studio...

    Tony Blackburn
     
  22.  
    Signal problem 12:45:

    First Great Western tweets: There's a signal problem between Paddington and Hayes & Harlington. Network Rail are on site, but delays of up to 20-mins are expected.

     
  23.  
    Finishing canoe race 12:31:

    Hundreds of canoeists and kayakers who began a 125-mile race to Westminster have crossed the finish line.

    Canoeist cross the finish line

    The race began in the Devizes in Wiltshire on Friday.

     
  24.  
    Quango boss resigns 12:13:

    Labour has said it is "astonishing" Prime Minister David Cameron could appoint Tony Caplin as head of the Public Works Loan Board.

    Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Chris Leslie said: "For him to be bankrupted in 2012 and appointed by the Prime Minister as chairman of this key Treasury body the following year is surely a misjudgement too far by a Prime Minister with a track record of poor judgement in relation to his cronies."

     
  25.  
    Stabbing in Thornton Heath 11:55:

    A man has been stabbed following a fight in Brigstock Road, Thornton Heath, south-east London, last night.

    The victim, believed to be in his 20s, is in a stable condition in hospital, Met Police said. No arrests have been made.

     
  26.  
    The Monarchy 'gagged' 11:33:

    On the gagged poster of Prince Charles advertising the play on the monarchy a Transport for London spokesperson, said: "The decision was made by our advertising contractor without reference to us and does look to have been a little over enthusiastic.

    "We will speak to them about it."

     
  27.  
    Chelsea lose 11:14:
    Connor Wickham scores

    Bottom club Sunderland earned a stunning win at Chelsea that severely dented the Blues' title hopes and gave leaders Liverpool a major boost.

    Connor Wickham followed up Marcos Alonso's shot to equalise after Samuel Eto'o had given Chelsea the lead. This was Jose Mourinho's first home Premier League defeat in 78 games as Chelsea manager.

     
  28.  
    Public Works Loan Board boss resigns 10:54:

    A businessman appointed by the prime minister to head the Public Works Loan Board, a quango managing public funds, has resigned after reports that he had been declared bankrupt.

    Tony Caplin, who was the chairman of the North West London Hospitals NHS Trust until January last year, resigned as chairman of the Public Works Loan Board, a Conservative spokesman said.

     
  29.  
    The Monarchy 'gagged' 10:34:

    A poster advertising a satirical play at the Almeida Theatre in Islington, north London, about the monarchy and showing Prince Charles gagged, has been censored on the London Underground, the Mail Online reports.

    The poster for King Charles III features a punk-style portrait of the Prince with his mouth covered by white duct tape.

     
  30.  
    As it happened
     
  31.  
    VIDEO: River Thames levels 10:21:

    As the boating season gets under way, river users are being urged to take extra care on the Thames because of higher than usual water levels.

    River Thames at Teddington

    The Environment Agency says there are strong currents and lots of debris in the water between Teddington, west London and Lechlade, Gloucestershire.

     
  32.  
    Archbishop of Westminster 09:53: BBC London 94.9 Radio

    The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols was in the studio earlier and told Jumoke Fashola people often ask him to pose for "selfies".

    "It's fun but I want to know like everybody else... what's it look like? Does it look alright? But we should have eyes that go beyond the appearance," he said.

    Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster
     
  33.  
    Easter service 09:42: Jason Rosam Journalist, BBC London

    The Bishop of London Richard Chartres has led a dawn Easter service on the steps of St Pauls Cathedral this morning. He handed me a red painted egg for Easter when I interviewed him on BBC London 94.9.

    He told me it's because red is the colour of the resurrection and the egg promises new life. His message for Easter is celebrating a wider Christian community around the world.

     
  34.  
    Easter Sunday 09:15:

    BBC London 94.9 reporter Jason Rosam tweets: The Bishop of London hands me a red painted egg for #Easter during his interview on @BBCLondon949 today. #HappyEaster

    Easter egg
     
  35.  
    Top news stories 08:53: BBC London 94.9 Radio

    From 09:00, Harriet Scott and Chris Rogers will be looking back over some of the big news stories of the week, including teenage pregnancies after a 12-year-old London girl became a mother and the rise in the number of people using food banks.

    Also in focus are the big issues in next month's local elections.

     
  36.  
    Easter travel 08:36:

    Disruption over the Easter period for improvement works:

    • District Line: No trains between Ealing Broadway and Turnham Green until Tuesday
    • Jubilee Line: No trains between Waterloo and Finchley Road until Tuesday
    • Piccadilly Line: No trains between Acton Town and Uxbridge until Tuesday
    • Bakerloo Line: No trains between Harrow & Wealdstone and Willesden Junction today
    • London Overground: No trains between Surrey Quays and Clapham Junction all weekend, and no trains between Watford Junction and Queens Park today
    • DLR: No service between Stratford and Bow Church until 2200 on Friday 25 April.
     
  37.  
    Cloudy with rain 08:12:

    It will be cloudy with occasional rain this morning.

    A band of heavier and more persistent rain will spread from the south in the afternoon, but it is expected to become drier by late evening. Highs of 15C (59F).

     
  38.  
    08:00: Debabani Majumdar BBC News Online

    Good morning. I'll be with you until 18:00 with the latest news, sport, travel and weather for London.

    You can tell me your news by emailing london.locallive@bbc.co.uk or tweeting @BBCLondonNews.

     

Features

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • ITChild's play

    It's never been easier for small businesses to get their message out to the world

Programmes

  • An aerial shot shows the Olympic Stadium, which is closed for repair works on its roof, in Rio de Janeiro March 28, 2014.Extra Time Watch

    Will Rio be ready in time to host the Olympics in 2016? The IOC president gives his verdict

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.