Flames tear through the 41-metre super yacht, Seafaris. Photo: Australian Maritime Safety Authority
Sixteen people have been forced to abandon ship after a luxury yacht caught fire and sank off the far north Queensland coast.
All 16 shocked survivors - eight passengers and eight crew members - arrived at Cairns marina about noon.
They were exhausted and barefoot, and some wore only shorts after their rapid escape.
Luxury yacht Seafaris which caught fire in Cow Bay. Photo: Supplied
An older passenger was asleep when the alarm was raised.
‘‘One of the crew knocked on the door and said ‘fire, fire, fire’,’’ he told reporters.
‘‘We just got organised and got in the raft in the water.’’
A middle-aged man, who didn’t want to be named, said ‘‘We’re all safe, that’s all that matters.’’
Harbour pilot Glen Alitt, who brought the survivors into Cairns, said none of the survivors were very talkative.
‘‘I think they’re all in a bit of shock,'' he said.
The 41-metre super yacht Seafaris caught fire in Cow Bay, about 50 nautical miles north of Cairns, about 6am on Thursday.
The 16 people on board were forced to jump into life boats as the Seafaris was engulfed by flames and sank.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority deployed its Dornier plane from Cairns, but a nearby container ship responded to the yacht’s mayday call and sent its own rescue boat to collect the stranded passengers and crew.
The group was safely on board the container ship by 7.30am.
The Queensland Ambulance Service said there were no reported injuries. Two people have already been assessed by paramedics and given the all-clear.
The container ship took the yacht’s passengers and crew to Cairns, where they were met by police and paramedics.
AMSA’s emergency towage vessel Pacific Responder is heading to the scene and will work alongside Maritime Safety Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Agency to respond to potential marine pollution issues.
A Cairns coastguard radio operator said everything happened “bloody quick”
“We heard about it on the wireless and about 30 seconds later it had sunk,” he said.
The Seafaris was used for luxury charters for high end tourists along the Queensland coast. It is owned by the McCloy Group, which has refused to comment.
Senior Constable Heidi Marek told the ABC that there would be a "number of investigations into what has caused the incident".
- With Kristian Silva and AAP