Five Britons killed when Canadian whale-watch boat sinks

Mon Oct 26, 2015 9:00pm 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 provincial coroner said. All five were passengers on the boat, not crew. The coroner 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.

The boat had lifejackets for 50 adults and 20 children, although passengers and crew were not wearing them, said Jamie Bray, owner of the tour operator.

That was in line with guidelines from Transport Canada, he said, which advises passengers risked becoming trapped inside a closed vessel if they wore lifejackets.

The Leviathan "did this exact same trip for 20 years, twice a day," he said, adding its skipper had 20 years of experience.   Continued...

Capsized whale watching boat Leviathan 2 sits in a bay after being towed from where it sank in Tofino, British Columbia October 26, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Light