Clues Sought in Whale Watch Boat Sinking

29 October, 2015

It remains unclear what caused a whale-watch boat to sink last weekend, killing five Britons off the west coast of Canada.

UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond confirmed all five who died were British, Reuters reported.

The boat sank Sunday near Tofino, British Columbia, with 27 people on board. The accident sparked a rescue effort by the Canadian military, Coast Guard, and local fishermen.

Five Britons were killed when a whale watching boat sank Sunday off Canada's west coast. (Reuters)
Five Britons were killed when a whale watching boat sank Sunday off Canada's west coast. (Reuters)

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre said 21 people were rescued and one Australian was missing. Most of those rescued were taken to hospitals. A spokeswoman for Island Health said one person was in serious condition, but stable.

The boat, or cruiser, was called Leviathan II. It was 65 feet long and had three decks. It was owned by Jamie's Whaling Station and Adventure Centres.

Its website says the company takes tourists on boats for several hours around Vancouver Island to see Pacific Gray whales and humpback whales. These whale-watching trips usually last two to three hours.

Corene Inouye is the company's spokesperson. She told the Guardian newspaper that the Leviathan II had been operating normally on a route it had followed for the past 20 years.

She could not say what caused the boat to sink. It happened so fast that the crew members were unable to radio for help, she said.

In 1998, a boat operated by the same company sank near Tofino, Reuters said. The ship's captain and a German tourist died in that accident.

The company owner, Jamie Bray, said he is cooperating with investigators to figure out what happened.

After the Leviathan II sank, survivors and bodies were brought ashore to Tofino. It is a Canadian town of about 2,000 people. Tourists from around the world visit the town, hoping to see humpback and Pacific Gray whales.

I'm Anne Ball.

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This article was reported by Mary Gotschall adapted this story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.


Words in This Story

whale - n. an often very large mammal that lives in the ocean

on boardexpression. carried on a vehicle or on a boat, in this case

sparked – v. to cause to start or happen

fishermen – n. men who catch fish

spokeswoman – n. a woman who speaks for or represents someone or something

cruiser – n. a boat that has room to live on and that is used for pleasure

tourists – n. people who travel to a place for pleasure