Five Britons die after whale watching boat sinks off Canadian coast


Five British tourists have died after the whale watching boat they were on capsized off the west coast of Canada.

One person is still missing and 18 are being treated in hospital after the 20-metre Leviathan II, which was carrying 27 people, turned over near Vancouver Island on Sunday afternoon.

Video footage online showed the boat bobbing vertically in the water, with what appears to be a large section of it submerged below the waves.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said: "It is with deep sadness that I can confirm five British nationals have lost their lives when the whale watching boat they were on sank off western Canada on Sunday.

"My thoughts are with the family and friends of all those affected by this terrible accident.

"Consular staff in British Columbia are supporting the family members of those who have died and we will remain in close contact with Canadian authorities as further information becomes available," Mr Hammond said in a statement.

The boat, run by Jamie's Whaling Station, a local tour company, got into difficulty eight miles from the small town of Tofino, around 150 miles (240km) west of Vancouver.

The Associated Press reported that the company had suffered a previous fatal accident, with a boat capsizing in 1998, killing the captain and a tourist.

Canadian Prime Minister-designate Justin Trudeau said he was "shocked and saddened" by the deaths, adding: "We thank all those, including our search and rescue officials, who responded swiftly with courage and professionalism.

"I know firsthand of this coastal area's natural beauty and the many people who visit here from all around the world. My thoughts and prayers are with the passengers, the crew, and their families at this most difficult time. We will continue to offer them support in the days ahead."