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Thailand ferry passengers jump into sea to escape raging fire on board

Passengers on board a ferry jumped into the sea to escape a large fire that engulfed the vessel in the Gulf of Thailand on Thursday.

There were 108 people on board the Ko Jaroen 2, according to the Associated Press, 97 of those were passengers. All of them are now reported to be safe.

The overnight ferry from Surat Thani province was about to reach its destination, the popular tourist island of Koh Tao, when one of the passengers reported hearing a crackling sound. The passenger also said that they smelled smoke.

Within five minutes, flames engulfed the ferry and plumes of thick smoke rose from the vessel. Panicked passengers on board started jumping into the sea.

One passenger, Maitree Promjampa was quoted as saying by AP: “We could barely get the life vests in time. It was chaotic. People were weeping … I also teared up.”

The incident occured at about 7am local time, according to the Bangkok Post.

The vessel was reported to be carrying a combination of cargo and overnight travellers, with 97 passengers and 11 crew members on board.

Ko Jaroen 2 departed from Surat Thani around 11pm local time on Wednesday and was bound for Koh Tao.

Kritphet Chaichuai, the head of the Marine Department, said the local emergency services first received reports of the fire at 6.40am, while the ferry was approximately two nautical miles away from the coast near Chalok Ban Kao bay in Koh Tao.

Boats from Koh Tao immediately rushed to aid passengers and crew, all of whom were successfully rescued.

The fire was contained by 8.20am local time.

Some passengers have reportedly suffered minor injuries, including some suffering from the after effects of smoke inhalation.

An investigation has been launched to determine the cause of the fire.