Five Cruise Ship Crew Members Die During Emergency Drill Training in Canary IslandsFeb 11, 2013
Five crew members of a cruise ship docked in the Canary Islands Sunday morning died during a drill involving a lifeboat.
According to an Associated Press report, five members of the crew died when the lifeboat they were on fell from the ship upside down into the sea in the port city of Santa Cruz on the island of La Palma. Three more members of the crew were injured, but not severely, in the accident.
The ship was docked in Santa Cruz when at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, a regular drill involving lowering crew members in a lifeboat to the sea was being conducted. A cable hoisting the lifeboat reportedly snapped as the eight members of the crew were being lifted back to the deck of the cruise ship, the Thomson Majesty. The ship is owned by Thomson Cruises, a British company.
As the crew was being lifted back to the deck of the massive vessel, the cable snapped and turned the lifeboat upside-down. It crashed to the water in that fashion with five members of the crew trapped underneath it. Divers were ordered by the ship’s captain into the water for rescue attempts. As they reached the lifeboat, four of the crew members were already dead and attempts to revive a fifth were unsuccessful. BBC News reports that the lifeboat fell close to 65 feet (about 20-30 meters) to the water during the exercise simulating an emergency. The drill lasted about an hour and as the boat was being lifted to the ship, a winch failed and the lifeboat capsized and fell.
The ship had docked in Santa Cruz after arriving from Gran Canaria. The cruise was on a scheduled six-hour layover when the crew conducted the emergency drill. It was due to embark on the rest of its cruise later that day to Funchai, Madeira. The ship was carrying 1,498 passengers and 594 crew members on the cruise. The deceased crew members were from several different countries: Indonesia, Phillipines, and Ghana. One of the injured crew members, who were taken to a hospital in La Palma. The cruise was in the Canary Islands for a festival.
The three crew members who survived the accident were able to jump away from the lifeboat after it had begun to fall. They were seriously injured but one has been discharged from the hospital. The five who died in the incident drowned.
The Thomson Majesty, according to The Daily Mail, had only taken its maiden voyage for Thomson Cruises last summer. It is 20 years old and had previously been owned by Louis Cruises, which still manages and operates the ship. It regularly takes “winter sun cruises” to locations like the Canary Islands, Madeira, and Morocco.
A recent passenger aboard the vessel told The Daily Mail that he witnessed this same exercise a week before this week’s accident and described what he saw as “shambolic” and raised concerns as he saw the lifeboat bouncing as it was raised from water to the ship. The report also notes that in 2010, two passengers aboard the ship were killed when it was rocked by a large wave.