Cruise boat shuttle catches fire, 50 rescued from Gulf of Mexico waters


A fire aboard a casino shuttle boat off Florida's west coast has left one passenger dead and more than a dozen others injured, authorities said.

Authorities responded to the scene around 4:00 p.m. after receiving a call that the San Cruz casino boat caught fire, WTSP reported.

Nine patients were taken to the emergency room at Bayonet Point.

There was no immediate reports on whether there were any injuries or on the extent or the cause of the fire. Only 15 were taken to a local hospital to be treated for minor injuries, including chest pain and smoke inhalation. "The water was very shallow and the people were able to jump off into the water and actually walk ashore".

Hashim, 50, entered the water to help the struggling passengers — some of whom appeared to have medical problems, she said.

The fire erupted on one of the coldest days of the year in the Tampa area.

Hypothermia was a danger for survivors as temperatures were unseasonably cold in the Tampa Bay region - with air temperatures low as 43 degrees Sunday and water temperature 59 degrees.

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She said she saw the boat explode.

When the fire sparked, the captain of the boat beached it about 100 feet from shore.

Dramatic video posted to social media shows some passengers plunging into the cold water as flames consumed the vessel.

Jason Zimmerman of Port Richey Police said: 'The boat was fully engulfed in flames and everybody was off the boat. "There were multiple people in the water", Zimmerman recounted.

The casino is anchored about three miles off the coast in the Gulf of Mexico.

Santangelo says the boat's captain was the true hero.