UPDATE 1 – Pretoria: 21 November 2016
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) and the South African Police Service Forensic Fire department are in the process of investigating the cause of the fire on board a cruising passenger vessel that led to the death of four people at Hartbeespoort Dam north of Pretoria on Saturday.
In a statement on Monday, SAMSA said it would also from Monday start taking witness statements from all the involved and or affected parties, with its primary focus being on the cause of the fire.
SAMSA said: “The vessel, named Prime Time (DTD 1523 R), caught fire while cruising on the dam. The vessel is certified by SAMSA to carry two hundred passengers plus three (3) crew on board. Initial investigations indicate that the vessel caught fire in the after part (rear of the vessel) where the kitchen, the bathrooms and the outboard motors (engines) are situated.”
SAMSA said as of Monday, it could confirm that at least one person died reportedly after being trapped in the bathroom of the vessel during the breakout of the fire, and that three (3) others also lost their lives after a boat out to rescue passengers of the burning cruiser apparently capsized reportedly due to overloading.
SAMSA further confirmed that the vessel that caught on fire had a valid Local General Safety Certificate for the period from August 2016 to July 2017.
In the statement the organization added: “SAMSA and the Department of Transport also send their condolences to the families of the deceased following this tragic incident.”
Hartbeespoort Dam boat fire tragedy, SAMSA to investigate
Pretoria 19 November 2016.
The South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has launched an initial investigation on the cause of the fire on board a cruising passenger vessel at Hartbeespoort Dam north of Pretoria on the afternoon of Saturday the 19th of November 2016.
SAMSA will also be investigating the cause of death of 3 passengers who drowned and one who died on board the vessel during the fire, the organization said in a statement on Saturday night.
SAMSA said: “Initial indications are that the vessel named Prime Time, caught fire while cruising on the dam with two hundred passengers on board. According to the SAMSA surveyor who was at the scene, the vessel caught fire at the aft (the back of the vessel) where the kitchen, the bathrooms and the outboard motors (engines) are situated.”
As of Saturday night, SAMSA said it could confirm only that one passenger died after being trapped in the bathroom during the fire, and that “in an effort to rescue the passengers from the burning vessel one of the smaller vessels took on too many passengers and capsized, leading to the drowning and death of three other passengers.”