Friday 23 June 2023

All five people, including two Pakistanis, aboard a submersible missing near the wreck of the Titanic died — likely in an instant — after their vessel suffered what the US Coast Guard said on Thursday was a “catastrophic implosion” in the ocean depths.

 



On board were British explorer Hamish Harding, French submarine expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet, Pakistani-British tycoon Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman, and Stockton Rush, CEO of the sub’s operator OceanGate Expeditions.

The somber announcement ended a multinational search-and-rescue operation that captivated the world since the tiny tourist craft went missing in the North Atlantic four days ago.

Rear Admiral John Mauger told reporters in Boston that analysis showed debris found on the seafloor, 500 metres from the bow of the Titanic, was consistent with the implosion of the sub’s pressure chamber.

“On behalf of the United States Coast Guard and the entire unified command, I offer my deepest condolences to the families,” Mauger said.

OceanGate said its “hearts are with these five souls and every member of their families during this tragic time”.

“These men were true explorers who shared a distinct spirit of adventure, and a deep passion for exploring and protecting the world’s oceans,” it said in a statement.

The Coast Guard announced earlier on Thursday that an underwater robot had discovered a “debris field” in the search area.

‘Unforgiving environment’

Authorities said they later learned the pieces included the sub’s tail cone and front and back ends of its pressure hull.

Mauger said the Coast Guard could not be sure when or why the vessel imploded and declined to be drawn on whether remains of the men would be retrieved.

“This is an incredibly unforgiving environment down there on the seafloor,” he said.

The process of demobilising personnel and vessels from the scene would soon begin, but unmanned robots would continue operations on the seabed for now, Mauger added.

“We’ll collect as much information as we can,” he said.

The US military originally detected the likely implosion of the craft on secret underwater sound monitoring devices shortly after it went missing on Sunday, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

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