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Duck boat trips on Thames halted after fire

30 passengers were rescued close to Lambeth Bridge in the heart of London

A tourist boat company has suspended trips on the River Thames after a blaze broke out on one of its vessels.

Around 30 passengers were rescued from a London Duck Tour (LDT) boat after flames ripped through the vessel on a stretch of water close to Lambeth Bridge in the heart of London.

A message on the company's website states that due to the fire they will be running a "land only service" from today.

Passengers were hauled to safety by crews on passing tour boats after the fire broke out shortly before midday on Sunday.

London Fire Brigade said the beleaguered boat was 33 per cent damaged by the blaze.

"Approximately 30 people were rescued by passing tourist boats," a spokesman said. "All persons were accounted for."

Many on board the London Duck Tours boat jumped into the water as flames took hold and thick black smoke billowed from the amphibious vessel.

The three people who were taken to St Thomas' Hospital for smoke inhalation have all now been discharged, the LDT said.

Other tourists were treated at the scene of the fire, opposite the Houses of Parliament.

In a statement on the LDT website, managing director John Bigos said the company "acknowledges the distressing situation" experienced by the passengers and the company is "fully co-operating" with the investigators and regulatory authorities about the fire.

Mr Bigos said that all passengers were safely evacuated and that there were no major injuries, adding: "London Duck Tours operates to the highest safety standards, and at this early stage it is not possible to speculate on the reason for the incident.

"Until the cause is established, the company will not be operating on the river and should technical or safety modifications be required to our fleet, these will be introduced prior to the service recommencing."

LDT touts itself as the "antidote to the usual bus tours" and promises to offer families an "adventure on both road and river".

He said that LDT's nine-strong fleet of vehicles were rebuilt and refurbished between 2002 and 2012. This includes new, purpose built hulls, new engines, computerised systems and steering equipment.

Tours last around an hour and a quarter, with around 30 minutes spent on the river. They are advertised as the "perfect activity for couples, families, friends or if you're looking for things to do in London for kids".

According to the company, each boat is modified to meet "stringent" safety regulations set by road and river authorities.

Each vehicle seats 30 passengers, has a public address system and is said to be fitted with full safety equipment.