A protection order has been made over the fire stricken vessel which sank off shore from Whakatane earlier this week.

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission today issued a protection order over Pee Jay V in order to preserve and protect evidence. Bay of Plenty Regional Council is asking for people to respect this.

The White Island tour boat had 60 people on board when a fire began. The fire quickly spread, engulfing the vessel and forcing people to jump into the sea.

The order prohibits any person from accessing any evidence related to the fire and sinking of Pee Jay V. This includes evidence that may be relevant in establishing the circumstances and causes of the accident.

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The remains of the boat are currently positioned at 370 55.955' S, 1770 00.596' E, or approximately 800 yards northwest of Kohi Point, but other evidence is likely to wash up on local beaches too.

The Commission is calling for any person who sees evidence that may relate to this accident to not touch the items but instead contact the Commission on 04 473 3112.

This order will be in place for the duration of the Commissions inquiry.