Video Credit: AsiaWire
This is the dramatic moment boats come to the rescue after a ferry caught fire, causing passengers to panic and jump into the sea even though the blaze was later extinguished and the ferry did not sink.
The scare began when people smelt smoke on the Dragon Star 1 ferry just minutes after it left the port town of Kuah, on the island of Langkawi in north-eastern Malaysia’s Kedah state, for the town of Kuala Perlis, in the state of Perlis on the mainland.
Picture Credits: AsiaWire
Flames were then seen coming from the back of the boat, near the engine room, and some passengers panicked as crew members tried to calm them down while calling the emergency services for help.
Coastguards, firefighters, marine police, tugboat operators and fishermen raced to the scene in their boats to help rescue the 46 passengers and six members of crew and put out the fire.
And five people who were out on the water on their jet skis even joined in the rescue operation by helping take passengers back to the island.
Dramatic smartphone footage shot by an eyewitness shows frightened passengers climbing over the side of the ferry to clamber into the rescue boats.
And passenger Fatihah Arshad, 29, said some passengers even jumped into the sea to swim towards the rescue boats rather than take their chances on the ferry.
A spokesman for the Langkawi Fire and Rescue Department confirmed: “Some of the passengers jumped into the sea to save themselves.”
All passengers and crew members were successfully rescued and taken to shore but most lost luggage or other belongings. Two suffered minor injuries and were taken to the Langkawi District Hospital.
Capt Zulinda Ramly, deputy director of the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), praised private boat owners for joining the rescue, adding: “We are proud of their bravery.”
Langkawi Businesses Association deputy president Datuk Alexander Issac also praised the island’s boating community for going to the aid of the passengers.
Langkawi is a duty-free island and the main island of an archipelago of 99 islands in the Andaman Sea off the mainland coast of north-western Malaysia, close to the Thai border.