Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

Amphibious bus sinking investigated

An amphibious tour bus which had 30 passengers on board sank in Liverpool's Albert Dock
An amphibious tour bus which had 30 passengers on board sank in Liverpool's Albert Dock
Emergency services at the scene of the sinking in Liverpool
Rescuers examine the scene in Salthouse Dock
The craft sank in Salthouse Dock at the front of the Albert Dock complex
Emergency services during the rescue operation in Liverpool

The company in charge of a fleet of amphibious tour buses is working "closely" with investigators after one of its vessels sank with 33 people on board having to swim to safety or be rescued.

A number of people were taken to hospital after the Yellow Duckmarine bus went under just before 4pm on Saturday in Liverpool's Albert Dock. A "multi-agency investigation" led by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has been launched into the sinking - the second in three months.

A company spokesperson said: "Yellow Duckmarine works closely at all times with the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA), the marine industry's independent regulatory body, to ensure it complies with all of its health and safety and regulatory obligations.

"The MCA has confirmed that Yellow Duck's active fleet meets all required safety standards. Yellow Duckmarine will continue to follow all direction from and fully cooperate with the MCA. "The matter is being investigated in the normal way as a marine accident by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB), who are carrying out an exhaustive investigation and we will continue to provide every assistance to the MAIB in that regard."

The spokesperson added: "Yellow Duckmarine is proud of the reputation it has earned and the contribution it has made to the economy and image of the city region during the many years it has safely carried almost two million passengers in Albert Dock."

The spokesperson confirmed that the rest of the fleet would remain grounded until further notice from the MCA.

A rescue operation - involving police, ambulance, coastguard and the RAF - was mounted by the emergency services on Saturday and 31 people, along with two crew members, were helped out of the water. Of those, 18 people were taken to The Royal Liverpool Hospital for treatment, mostly for shock, but all were well enough to be discharged.

It is understood that 28 people were led to safety from the vessel, including a baby whose mother held her above the water on the roof of the sinking craft. Three more were saved from the water by firefighters. Nobody was trapped inside the vessel, the fire service said.

Watch Manager Dave Thomas, who was with Red Watch at Liverpool City Community Fire Station and attended the call-out, said: "The scene was quite chaotic when we arrived on the quayside. We reacted quickly and got our firefighters into the water." He continued: "The firefighters swam to rescue those still in the water, physically lifting them and helping them to reach the narrow boats they were near and dry land," he said. Mr Thomas added: "The three people in the water were close to exhaustion."

A spokesman for Merseyside Police said everyone had been accounted for, adding: "A multi-agency investigation into the full circumstances of the incident is ongoing."

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