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Image: Peter Flood

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Whale watch boat sinks off Canada: five British passengers dead

A whale watching boat sank yesterday off the coast of British Columbia, western Canada, leaving at least 5 Britons dead.

The vessel, the Leviathan II, a 65-foot cruiser sank off Tofino, Vancouver Island, with 27 passengers aboard.  Twenty-one passengers have been rescued but one person is still missing.

First on the scene were members of the nearby Ahousat First Nation community, who saw flares and responded immediately, rescuing many stricken passengers.

The cause of the accident remains unclear. Coastguards have reported that sea conditions at the time were calm, however local fishermen in claim that those waters can, at times, become ‘like a washing machine’.

The Leviathan II is operated by whale watch company, Jamie’s Whaling Station and Adventure Centres.  Owner, Jamie Bray, issued a statement expressing the company’s deep sorrow at the accident. “It has been a tragic day. Our entire team is heartbroken over this incident. 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  March1998, a vessel owned by the same whale watch company capsized in the same area, Plover Reefs, killing the captain and a German tourist.

WDC extends sincere condolences to all those involved in, or affected by, this tragic incident.