BANGKOK - More than 60 people were hospitalised Saturday, mostly for burns, after the engine on a Bangkok commuter boat burst into flames and sent passengers leaping to a nearby pier, officials said.

The crowded boat was ferrying passengers through a major canal in the eastern outskirts of the Thai capital, which boasts an extensive network of waterways that teem with motorised commuter boats during rush hour.

Most of the 65 injured were later released from the hospital, while 19 were still receiving treatment, according to the city's Erawan emergency medical centre. The centre said three foreigners -- two Myanmar nationals and one Japanese -- were among those injured in the accident.

Bangkok's police commissioner Sanit Mahathavorn said two passengers were seriously hurt by flying debris from the explosion, which rocked the wooden boat but largely left its hull intact. "Most of the injured passengers are suffering from burns," he told reporters from Wat Thepleela pier, where the accident took place shortly after dawn.

An initial police investigation suggested the combustion was caused by a fuel leak onboard. "We found that gas leaked at the boat's rear and caused an explosion in its engine," the officer said. Security footage showed the back of the boat erupt into flames just as it was docking, sending a storm of passengers scrambling towards the concrete pier. Witnesses interviewed on Channel 3 said others panicked and leapt into the canal's murky waters.

The director of Family Transport, a private company that runs the boat service, told the network he would suspend all boats in his fleet that run on liquefied natural gas while the investigation was ongoing. "We still don't know how it exploded," he said, adding that 25 of his boats have been using gas-powered engines for up to eight years without any issues.

The shuttle was travelling on Saen Saeb canal, which runs through the heart of the capital and eventually connects to its main river, the Chao Praya. Bangkok's Govenor Sukhumbhand Paribatra visited injured passengers at hospitals in the afternoon and said he would ask the transport ministry to halt all boat services on the canal until the investigation is complete.

"[We] will find an alternative mode of transport to help the public during the suspension," his office said in a statement. Bangkok's canal boats cost no more than one dollar to ride and are among the cheapest and swiftest forms of transportation in traffic-choked Bangkok. They run around 100,000 passenger journeys a day, according to official figures from 2012.

Thailand's junta is intensifying intimidation of academics who criticise the generals efforts to stay in power by sending army officers to their homes, a Thai rights group said on Wednesday.

Since the military seized power nearly two years ago, at least 77 academics have been harrassed at home by officers advising them to adjust their critical mindset or ordered to attend camps for indoctrination, according to Thai Lawyers for Human Rights. Those who attend the camps are usually released within a couple of days.

At least five academics have been forced into exile, said Poonsuk Poonsukcharoen, a member of the lawyers group, which provides legal aid and monitors rights violations in Thailand and is influential with international NGOs, the European Union and other foreign governments.

"With legitimacy stretching thin and achievements falling flat, the junta feels the pressure to silence critics to maintain its power," Poonsuk told Reuters. The country's generals have struggled to revive Southeast Asia's second-largest economy after ousting a democratically elected government in 2014 to end months of political unrest that was damaging business.

There have been scattered protests against military rule, but they were quickly quelled by troops and police. Some Thais welcomed the coup after months of anti-government street protests, but critics accuse the military of delaying a return to democracy by pushing back the date for elections.

Rights groups say the junta has used authoritarian methods to systematically repress rights and muzzle critics. In a Feb. 24 report, Amnesty International said Thailand had dismissed international calls not to silence dissent. Last week, self-exiled prominent Thai academic Pavin Chachavalpongpun took to social media to accuse the junta of intimidating his family in Thailand.