5 Britons killed in sinking of Canada whale-watching boat: CBC

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Video Show Sinking of British Columbia Whale Tour Boat

The five people who were killed when a Canadian whale-watching boat sank on Sunday were British nationals, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp said on Monday, citing the British foreign secretary.

The boat, carrying 27 passengers, sank off the coast of British Columbia on Sunday afternoon, sparking a rescue effort by the Coast Guard, fisherman and private mariners. Five people were confirmed dead and one was missing, while 21 had been rescued.

The vessel, the Leviathan II, was operated by Jamie's Whaling Station and Adventure Centres.

"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," owner Jamie Bray said in a statement posted on the company's website.

"We are cooperating with investigators to determine exactly what happened," he said.

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In 1998, a boat operated by the same company sank near Tofino, killing the ship's captain and a German tourist.

A military rescue helicopter and plane responded after the vessel sent a distress signal around 5 p.m. local time, according to the JRCC. Military planes and coast guard vessels lit up the area where the vessel remained partially submerged, eight nautical miles northwest of Tofino.

Most of those rescued had been taken to hospital, and several had been released.

See photos from the terrifying incident:

13 PHOTOS
Whale watching boat sinks in Canada
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5 Britons killed in sinking of Canada whale-watching boat: CBC
@tofinonews @GlobalBC #Tofino is dealing w/ a tragic boating accident. Details still scarce. #vancouverisland #news https://t.co/WTirUMr9RT
Canadian Coast Guard crew arrive at a dock in Tofino, west coast of Vancouver, Canada, early Monday, Oct. 26, 2015, following a search and rescue operation. A whale watching boat with 27 people on board sank off Vancouver Island on Sunday, Canadian authorities said. (Chad Hipolit/The Canadian Press via AP)
A woman pays her condolences from the First St. dock to passengers of a capsized whale watching boat in Tofino, west coast of Vancouver, Canada, early Monday, Oct. 26, 2015. The whale watching boat with 27 people on board sank off Vancouver Island on Sunday, Canadian authorities said. (Chad Hipolit/The Canadian Press via AP)
Local resident Sheila Simpson talks to reporters about how she helped passengers aboard a whale-watching boat who were rescued as they were brought to the First Street dock after their tour boat capsized near Tofino, British Columbia, early Monday, Oct. 26, 2015. (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press via AP)
A candle burns on the First St. Dock in memory of those who lost their lives on a whale watching boat that capsized, in Tofino, west coast of Vancouver, Canada, early Monday, Oct. 26, 2015. The whale watching boat with 27 people on board sank off Vancouver Island on Sunday, Canadian authorities said. (Chad Hipolit/The Canadian Press via AP)
Canadian Coast Guard crew arrive at a dock in Tofino, west coast of Vancouver, Canada, early Monday, Oct. 26, 2015, following a search and rescue operation. A whale watching boat with 27 people on board sank off Vancouver Island on Sunday, Canadian authorities said. (Chad Hipolit/The Canadian Press via AP)
#Tofino's thoughts & prayers are with passengers, crew, emergency responders & their families. Thank you all for your messages of support.
Hands raised to the people of #Ahousat FN for their incredible acts of courage during the #Tofino tragedy today.
I think all of #Tofino needs our prayers right now.
My thoughts and prayers are with all those involved in the Tofino tragedy. I know the community is doing everything they can to help.
Tonight from the #Tofino beach I see flares lighting the ocean, helicopters circling in distance. Tragic. Prayers. https://t.co/YNeMqDZHxR
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Tofino, a community of about 2,000 people on the west coast of Vancouver Island, is a popular tourist destination for surfers, hikers and whale watchers from around the world.

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Earlier in the evening, military planes and coast guard vessels lit up the area where the vessel remained partially submerged, eight nautical miles northwest of Tofino.

The manager of the Shelter Restaurant in Tofino said fishermen and fishing charter companies had joined the rescue effort, with about 15-20 boats leaving the tourist town.

Albert Titian posted photos on his Facebook page:

John Forde, who works at another eco-adventure company, said passengers on a vessel like the Leviathan II, a three-deck 65-foot cruiser that can carry up to 46 people, would not have had to wear life jackets. The boat, like ferries, would only be required to have life jackets on board.

He told Global TV that the seas were three to four meters high at the time of the sinking, conditions that were rough but not unusual for the area, Forde said.

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