Passengers jump into sea to escape raging ferry fire on popular tourist route off Thai coast

Dramatic footage shows a fire raging on a ship off the coast of Thailand, with passengers describing jumping off the ship to escape the blaze.

The overnight ferry from Surat Thani had been due to arrive at Koh Tao on Thursday morning when one of the travellers suddenly heard a crackling sound and smelt smoke.

Videos posted online show crowds of people rushing out of the ferry's cabin as the vessel is consumed by plumes of thick black smoke.

Maitree Promjampa, a passenger on the ship, told the Associated Press: "We could barely get the life vests in time. It was chaotic. People were weeping… I also teared up.”

He said that several boats had come to their rescue around 20 minutes after they called for help, but the boats could not get close to the ferry out of fear of explosions.

People were forced to jump into the sea to be rescued, he claimed. “Everyone had to help themselves,” he added.

Of the 108 people on the ferry, 97 were passengers, Surat Thani officials said on Facebook.

No casualties or injuries were reported in the incident, they added. The fire has since been brought under control and an investigation has been launched to determine its origin.

The ferry from Surat Thani to Koh Tao, a popular tourist destination, carries both commuters and tourists.

In July 2022, a fire erupted on a passenger ferry en route to Koh Tao from Chumphon after the boat's engine exploded.

At least 18 people were injured in the incident, local authorities said.