Investigators speak on Canada whale watching tragedy | News | DW | 28.10.2015
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Investigators speak on Canada whale watching tragedy

Details have begun to emerge in the tragic sinking of a tourist boat that killed five people off of British Columbia. The movement of passengers plus strong waves 'raised the center of gravity,' officials said.

Investigators began revealing details of a whale watching trip that ended in tragedy on Tuesday, saying that the capsized vessel that killed five people off the coast of Canada over the weekend was hit by a particularly strong wave on its right side while its 27 passengers has gathered on the left of the boat.

"We know that most passengers were on the top deck on the port side, that's the left side of the vessel. This would have raised the center of gravity, affecting the vessel's stability," said Marc Andre Poisson, Director of Marine Investigations for Canada's Transportation Safety Board.

"We also know that the sea conditions were such that a wave approached from the starboard quarter, that's the right of the vessel. We know that the vessel broached and then capsized."

Five Britons killed, Australian missing

Twenty-one people were rescued on Sunday afternoon after the Leviathan II capsized off of Tofino on Vancouver Island, in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Five people, all British nationals, were killed and rescue workers were still searching for a missing Australian man.

The five victims, two of whom were British citizens living in Canada, were named by the Associated Press as Katie Taylor, 29, Nigel Francis Hooker, 63, Jack Slater, 76, David Thomas, 50, and his 18-year-old son Stephen.

David Thomas was remembered by the Down Syndrome Association UK as a "huge supporter" of the organization, and "one of the driving forces behind the Swindon Down's Syndrome Group, where he was a trustee."

Stephen Thomas, who had Down Syndrome, was memorialized by the group as "a very talented young man and a gifted photographer."

The full investigation into how a routine tourist cruise could turn into such a tragedy is expected to take months. Only one life raft was deployed, and local fisherman reported having rescued some of the passengers in their own boats.

Coroner Matt Brown also told the press that the preliminary investigation suggested that those who perished were on the top part of the boat and that they hadn't been wearing life vests because it is not required on the type of ship they were in.

es/bw (AP, dpa)

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