The family of the British billionaire and teenager who died aboard the Titanic sub were on its mother ship on the surface when the tragedy struck.
Suleman Dawood, 19, and his father Shahzada, were among the five people aboard the OceanGate Titan submersible who died during a “catastrophic implosion” as it descended to the wreck of the ocean liner in the Atlantic Ocean last week.
Christine Dawood and her 17-year-old daughter, Alina, were on the Polar Prince, the sub’s support vessel, when the Titan lost communications and was never heard from again, she told the BBC.
“I didn’t comprehend at that moment what it meant - and then it just went downhill from there,” she said in her first interview about the tragedy.
Mr Dawood and his teenage son were killed along with CEO and founder of OceanGate Expeditions Stockton Rush, British billionaire explorer Hamish Harding, and renowned French diver Paul-Henri Nargeolet.
His wife told the BBC that she had originally planned to go on the die, but it had been cancelled during Covid, and when it was re-scheduled the teenager took her seat.
“Then I stepped back and gave them space to set [Suleman] up, because he really wanted to go,” she said.
She and her daughter remained on the Polar Prince as the eyes of the world turned to the desperate search and rescue effort as it played out in the Atlantic.
“I think I lost hope when we passed the 96 hours mark,” Ms Dawood said as she revealed she sent a message to her family.
“I said: ‘I’m preparing for the worst.’ That’s when I lost hope,” she recalled.
But she said her daughter had held out hope of a rescue until the very end.
“She didn’t lose hope until the call with Coast Guard. When they basically informed us that they found debris,” she said.
The family returned to St John’s in Newfoundland, Canada, on Saturday, and on Sunday held a funeral prayer for Shahzada and Suleman.
Ms Dawood declined to comment on any of the investigations that have been launched into the accident and was asked how she and her daughter would find closure.
“Is there such a thing? I don’t know,” she said. “I miss them. I really, really miss them.”
She also said that Suleman had taken a Rubik’s Cube with him to break a world record while he was onboard the sub.
“He said, ‘I’m going to solve the Rubik’s Cube 3,700 metres below sea at the Titanic,” she told the BBC.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies