Five Britons Dead After Canadian Whale-Watching Boat Sinks Off Vancouver Island

26/10/2015 14:22 | Updated 26 October 2015

The five people who died when a whale-watching boat sank off Tofino, in Western Canada, on Sunday were all British nationals, the Foreign Secretary has confirmed.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said: “It is with deep sadness that I can confirm five British nationals have lost their lives when the whale watching boat they were on sank off Western Canada on Sunday.

capsized boat

At least five people have died after the whale watching boat capsized

“My thoughts are with the family and friends of all those affected by this terrible accident.

“Consular staff in British Columbia are supporting the family members of those who have died and we will remain in close contact with Canadian authorities as further information becomes available.”

The tourist boat carrying 27 people sank off Vancouver Island late on Sunday afternoon.

Rescue teams continued looking into the night, but their search has since been called off with one person still unaccounted for.

canada boat

The boat sank off Vancouver Island

Five people died and one person is still missing. It is still unknown what caused the boat to sink.

The vessel made a mayday call late Sunday afternoon on what was a calm, clear and sunny day off the tourist community of Tofino, a popular destination for whale watchers on Canada's West Coast, the Associated Press reports.

capsized boat

One person is still missing

The 20-metre boat was partially submerged when rescuers found it.

Tom Campbell was on the Tofino waterfront and watched as rescue personnel brought several of the survivors ashore.

He told The Canadian Press: "Their looks tell the whole story,.

"You can't describe looks on people that are lost. They look totally lost — shocked and lost.''

Campbell, who wasn't on the water, said his cousin pulled at least eight people from the water into a boat on Sunday afternoon.

The ship that went down was reportedly operated by Jamie's Whaling Station.

Jamie's Whaling Station was one of the first of its kind off Vancouver Island and had been around for many years.

Jamie Bray, owner of the tour company, said in a statement: "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.

"We are doing everything we can to assist our passengers and staff through this difficult time. We are cooperating with investigators to determine exactly what happened.

"In the meantime, we want to extend our most sincere thank you to the first responders, rescue personnel, and everyone from Tofino and the local First Nations communities who assisted with the response effort.

"We will provide further updates when information becomes available."

John Forde, who runs The Whale Centre, said: "Over the course of a season and years we take out thousands and thousands of people on these trips in conditions similar today.

"I have no idea what the issue was or what actually happened."

This is not the first fatality on the whale watching company's record. In 1998 one of its vessels capsized during an excursion, sending all four people on board into the water. The operator and a passenger died.

Canada's Transportation Safety Board is investigating the boat's sinking.


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