Five people killed in Canary Island cruise ship accident after lifeboat falls into sea


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The Independent Online

Five crew members have been killed, and a further three injured after a lifeboat fell into the sea from a cruise ship tied up at the port of Santa Cruz in the Canary Islands.

The accident happened on the Majesty, operated by UK-based Thomson Cruises, during a routine safety drill.

The island's Emergency and Security Coordination Center said rescue personnel were called to the dockside at 1205 GMT (7:05 a.m. EST) today after "a lifeboat with occupants had fallen overboard from a cruise ship docked at the pier of Santa Cruz port in La Palma."

The lifeboat fell into the sea trapping its occupants.

Those killed include three Indonesians, a Filipino and a Ghanaian. Three further people were injured in the incident after the boat fell over 20m into the sea.

The ship - the MS Thomson Majesty, is operated by UK-based Thomson Cruises, and was carrying around 1,400 passengers. No passengers were involved in the accident, local reports say.

The UK Foreign Office said it was aware of the incident and was "urgently investigating".

Thomson Cruises said in a statement it is "aware of an incident involving the ship's crew on board Thomson Majesty, in La Palma, Canary Islands this afternoon".

The UK firm added: "We are working closely with the ship owners and managers, Louis Cruises, to determine exactly what has happened and provide assistance to those affected by the incident."

Spanish national broadcaster RTVE said an emergency training drill was taking place at the time of the accident.

A reporter at the dockside said all of those in the lifeboat at the time of the accident were crew members.

Thomson and the Foreign Office said there were no Britons involved.

The local authorities of La Palma cancelled Carnival festivities that had been due to be held on the island today, but said they would go ahead as planned on Monday.

The incident happened just 13 months after the cruise industry was rocked by the Costa Concordia tragedy in which 32 people died.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said: "The thoughts of all seafarers will be with the friends and families of those who have lost their lives in this tragic incident.

"Once again the spotlight is on the issue of safety in the UK shipping and cruise industry and RMT awaits the outcome of the investigation and recommendations that can prevent any repetition of today's shocking events."

The incident happened just 13 months after the cruise industry was rocked by the Costa Concordia tragedy in which 32 people died.