Regional council check for boat sinking impacts

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Debris has washed ashore from yesterday's sinking boat.
Debris has washed ashore from yesterday's sinking boat.

The Bay of Plenty Regional Council is currently undertaking a shoreline assessment to ascertain any adverse effects from yesterdays' fire on board the White Island Tour vessel PeeJay V.

These assessment teams include staff from the Regional Council and representatives from the Department of Conservation and Ngati Awa.

Three locations are currently being assessed - Coastlands to Whakatane and Rangitaiki river mouths, Otawairere Bay and Ohope beach with MoutohorA and Raurima's islands to be checked when the sea conditions are suitable.

At this stage debris has been located covering an area approximately 400m in length on the Opihi coastlands.

This debris is burnt material that has washed ashore, with no oil or adverse environmental effects evident.

The vessel sank at 5.41pm yesterday.

It is anticipated that the intensity of the fire that consumed the vessel will reduce the likelihood of any environmental effects.

The adverse weather conditions are currently preventing any further assessment of the wreck.

Meanwhile, White Island Tours marketing manager and spokesman Patrick O'Sullivan said managing directors Peter and Jenny Tait were involved with the investigation and clean-up aspects of the incident and were working with a number of agencies including Maritime New Zealand, Traffic Accident Investigation Commission and local and regional councils.

"We're still unsure as to what caused the fire on the vessel and we need investigations to take place before we can provide any detail on that," Mr O'Sullivan said.

Mr O'Sullivan says there has been a huge outpouring of support for the company, crew and passengers.

"We're so grateful for the messages and offers of support and want to thank our local community for rallying around us."

White Island Tours assisted with passengers who had lost personal items aboard the vessel, such as car keys and passports, as well as providing accommodation in its motel for those who required it or arranging onwards travel.

Mr O'Sullivan said future bookings for tours to White Island will be able to be accommodated on the company's other vessels, PeeJay IV and The Moutohora Cat.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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