Five Britons killed when Canadian whale-watch boat sinks

Mon Oct 26, 2015 4:33pm EDT
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By Paul Brian

TOFINO, British Columbia (Reuters) - Five Britons were killed when a Canadian whale-watching boat sank on Sunday, and authorities were still searching on Monday for a sixth person feared drowned in the frigid waters of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of British Columbia.

The boat, carrying 24 passengers and three crew, sank on Sunday afternoon, sparking a rescue effort by the Canadian military, Coast Guard, fishermen and mariners from a nearby Aboriginal community. Five people were confirmed dead and one was missing, while 21 were rescued.

The casualties included four men and a woman, and ranged in age from 18 to 76, the Coroners Service of British Columbia said in a statement. All five were passengers on the boat, not crew.

While all five were British nationals, three were tourists and two were living in Canada, the coroner's office said.

The coroners service did not release any information on the missing person.

"My thoughts are with the family and friends of all those affected by this terrible accident," UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in a statement.

The Leviathan II, a three-deck cruiser that can carry up to 46 people, was operated by Jamie's Whaling Station and Adventure Centres. Whale watching trips usually last two to three hours.

"It has been a tragic day. Our entire team is heartbroken over this incident and our hearts go out to the families, friends and loved ones of everyone involved," owner Jamie Bray said in a statement on the company's website. "We are cooperating with investigators to determine exactly what happened."   Continued...

Rescue personnel mounting a search for victims of a capsized whale watching boat park on a wharf in Tofino, British Columbia October 25, 2015. REUTERS/Adam Chilton