Most of the passengers on a Canadian whale-watching boat that sank, killing five people, were on the left-hand side of its upper deck, which affected the vessel’s stability, a report has said.
The Leviathan II, which was carrying 27 people, sank near Tofino, British Columbia on Sunday afternoon.
Canadian investigators said a wave hit the vessel from the right, causing it to list to one side before capsizing.
A 27-year-old Australian man from Sydney is still missing.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada said its investigation will continue on Wednesday, when the vessel will be examined to “understand its condition at the time of the accident”.
“This will include reviewing stability information at the time of its construction, and examining any modifications that have been made since its initial construction that may have affected its stability,” a statement said.
David Thomas, 50, and his son Stephen, 17, from Swindon were among those who died. Stephen’s mother Julie was rescued from the Leviathan ll.
Nigel Hooker, 63, from Southampton, Salford-born Jack Slater, 76, who had lived in Canada for many years and Katie Taylor, 29, who was living in Whistler, British Columbia, also died.
All five were on the open, upper deck of the boat, but were not wearing life jackets, regional coroner Matt Brown told a news conference.
The other passengers were all in an enclosed part of the boat.
Officials have said more of the 27 people on board could have died had it not been for the “amazing response” from locals around Tofino.
Corene Inouye, director of operations at Jamie’s Whaling Station and Adventure Centre, the company that owns the boat, said: “It appears the incident happened so quickly that the crew didn’t have an opportunity to send out a Mayday.”
She added the skipper of the ship has more than 20 years’ whale-watching experience and had completed 18 years with the company.
Company owner Jamie Bray said passengers on the boat were not required to wear life jackets as it has enclosed compartments, which would be difficult to exit in the event of a sinking.
Another whale-watching boat operated by the same company capsized in 1998, killing two people, including the boat operator and a tourist from Germany.
Australian Associated Press reported the missing 27-year-old Sydney man was on the boat with his girlfriend and her family when it sank.
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said his thoughts were with the family and friends of those affected by Sunday’s incident.
Canadian prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau said he was “shocked and saddened” by the deaths.
Whale watching off British Columbia
- Tofino is a popular surfing and whale-watching resort near the Clayoquot area
- Whale-watching season in Tofino begins in March and ends in late October
- The area’s rugged coastline and national parks attract tens of thousands of tourists every year
- Canada has over 200,000km (124,000 miles) of coastline, meaning it is one of the best locations for whale watching