It's too early to speculate what caused a fire and subsequent sinking of a vessel off the coast of Whakatane yesterday, a Transport Accident Investigation Commission spokesman has said.

Rob Thompson, chief executive of the commission, spoke to media in Whakatane this afternoon and said it was not yet known how the fire started on PeeJay V.

The White Island Tours boat carrying 53 passengers and seven crew caught fire yesterday afternoon, forcing those on board to jump into the water or get into safety boats.

No one was seriously hurt.


Mr Thompson said it would take several weeks to gather information from passengers and crews.

He also said no decision had yet been made about whether to salvage the wreckage.

Meanwhile, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council can confirm that there has not been any oily debris found on the Whakatane coast from yesterdays' fire on board the White Island Tour vessel PeeJay V.

There are several areas where charcoaled debris has been found.

The Regional Council, in collaboration with the Department of Conservation and Ngati Awa, will continue to monitor the coastline over the next few days.

20 Jan, 2016 8:46am
2 minutes to read