A whale-watching boat carrying 27 passengers sank off the coast of Canada’s Vancouver Island on Sunday afternoon, and officials say at least five people died amid the frigid waters.
Canada’s Joint Rescue Coordination Centre reports that 21 people were rescued from the sinking Leviathan II, as the ship was submerged nearly 8 miles from the coastal town of Tofino.
The UK’s Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, confirmed that the five passengers who perished during the accident were British nationals.
“My thoughts are with the family and friends of all those affected by this terrible accident,” Hammond said in a statement.
Lt. Commander Desmond James, a spokesman for the Joint Rescue Coordination Center, confirmed that of the 21 passengers rescued, one remains missing. James also confirmed that the JRCC’s portion of the search and rescue mission has concluded, but did not offer details as to why, instead indicating that the Canadian Mounted Royal Police would resume the search for the final missing passenger.
The Transportation and Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has also deployed a team of investigators.
Leviathan II was owned by Jamie’s, a whale-watching and outdoor recreation tour company, based in Tofino. A somber statement regarding the incident was posted to Jamie’s website by Jamie Bray, the company’s owner.
“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,” it reads.
“We are doing everything we can to assist our passengers and staff through this difficult time.”
The cause of the ship’s sinking has not been announced.