A British tourist has been confirmed dead and at least 40 others drowned in a devastating accident in the Channel island of Guernsey on Friday.
A huge cruise ship collided with an inflatable boat owned by the British manager of the RMS Elizabeth Bird, killing the pilot in the water.
Transport of the boats is controlled by pilots known as umpires, who guide the boats through the channel. The day the accident occurred, there were seven of them on board, but only one was in the water.
The inflatable boat, carrying about 60 people, overturned after it was struck by the cruise ship. Passengers on the ship were initially evacuated in lifeboats, but later brought on board the incoming vessel, which has more than 1,000 seater’s capacity, without any injuries. In a statement, the company that owns the giant Lufthansa liner, Cunard, said “the Lufthansa liner has the necessary procedures in place that enable it to safely evacuate passengers and crew in an emergency.”
The ship carrying the victims (pictured), the “City of Cunard” (also known as Queen Elizabeth 2), was on a route from Southampton to Guernsey. Thousands of tourists often come to the Channel Islands for summer holiday. The ferry and cruise route is vital for the island’s economy, according to the Guernsey Gazette, carrying “as many as 30,000 people at peak times.”
Distressing images show survivors jostling to get onto the lifeboats of the Cunard ship as it came to rescue them, in one picture screaming “help me.” The barge turned up the lifeboats to bring them to the shore of the Channel Islands and a cordon was placed around the rescue operation to prevent further flow of people onto the narrow channel.
Update: Boating accident on Guernsey in which up to 41 people drowned. pic.twitter.com/R0WIIcxDya — BBC News Channel (@BBCNewsChannel) June 15, 2016
The tragedy comes just a few weeks after a ship that left Barcelona was involved in a collision and subsequently ran aground off the coast of Tenerife, Spain. Dozens of people were killed in the disaster.