Canadian Whale Watching Boat Sinks Off Vancouver Island As Officials Search For Survivors
Update: Early Monday morning, officials confirmed 21 people were rescued and five people died in the sinking. One person is still reported missing.
The search for survivors was at a high Sunday evening after a Canadian whale watching boat sank off Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Officials said there were 27 people on board the boat that capsized off Tofino, located on the west coast of the island. The mayday call came in right before 4 p.m. local time, according to the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre, and it is believed there are people still alive.
USA Today reports at least one person has been confirmed dead by the British Columbia Coroner's Service. When asked how many died from the incident, British Columbia Coroner spokeswoman told the Associated Press, "Multiple but we don't yet have a firm number. Still a very fluid situation so we really are not sure yet."
According to CTV News, the boat is owned by Jamie's Whaling Station and Adventure Centres, which operates various tours out of Tofino. Local boats are also helping with the rescue effort, and the first calls came in from local First Nations residents and other tour boats, the outlet reports.
One witness, who owns another local touring company, told CBC the weather was beautiful with sunny skies. "The waters weren't choppy so I don't see what could have caused the boat to sink, but you never know in these waters unfortunately," Rami Touffaha said.
In September, a U.S. commercial fishing boat sank off Estevan Point, located roughly 35 miles north of Tofino, and killed three of its four crew members.