46 people abandon ship during Great Barrier Reef fire

AP News
Posted: May 11, 2016 5:17 PM

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — All 46 people aboard a tourist catamaran were rescued after the vessel caught fire and sank on Australia's Great Barrier Reef, police said.

A police statement said 19 of those rescued were taken to hospitals in Bundaberg and Gladstone for treatment of non-life threatening injuries after the vessel sank late Wednesday.

Most of those on board were Chinese tourists, Nine Network television reported Thursday.

The 23-meter (75-foot) catamaran, Spirit of 1770, was returning to the town of 1770 after a day trip to Lady Musgrave Island when it caught fire and was abandoned 30 minutes later, police said.

Passengers and crew took to life rafts, Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

The fire started in the engine room, ABC reported.

The town of 1770 was named after the year that British explorer James Cook and the crew of HM Endeavour landed on that stretch of the Australian east coast.