Update: 5 Dead After Cruise Ship Lifeboat Accident; Line Reassures Passengers on Safety

February 11, 2013
(11:50 a.m. EST) -- Five crewmembers were killed and three injured Sunday when a lifeboat on Thomson Majesty fell into the sea in Spain's Canary Islands.

According to the Associated Press (via CBS), Spanish national broadcaster RTVE said the accident occurred around mid-day local time in La Palma during an emergency training drill. Thomson's Senior Press Officer, Claire Borgeat, tells Cruise Critic the lifeboat was 17 meters from sea level at the moment of the accident (not 30 meters as originally reported). According to reports, a cable snapped as the lifeboat was being winched back up, causing it to flipover and fall, trapping the crewmembers inside.

Majesty's operator, Britain-based Thomson Cruises, confirmed the fatalities and injuries. Of the three injured crewmembers, the line says "one has been discharged from hospital and [it] expects the other two people to be released from hospital imminently."

Passengers onboard the ship have been posting their condolences to the crewmembers on Thomson's Facebook page. They have also been expressing concerns about the lifeboat out of action and asking for safety tests to be carried out on the cables holding the others:

One passenger John Bulpin writes:

“We are on the ship and understand that the captain is contemplating continuing the cruise taking life boat 10 out of service as well, thus 2 lifeboats down. Very concerned as if a lifeboat with capacity of over 150 persons fails with 8 persons on board how can they be safe !!! Every cable needs to be unwound and checked by an expert first. Safety first please, learn by our mistakes. RIP to the crew involved.”

A Thomson spokesperson responds on Facebook: “Passengers that were assigned to the life-boat that is now out of action have been re-assigned to other boats, and will take part in a drill to ensure they are aware of the new procedures.

“The second lifeboat you mention remains fully functionally but will not be used due to maritime law stating that we must have symmetrical boats.

"We have more than enough lifeboat and life-raft capacity for all on board, should they be needed, and all of the lifeboats and their launching apparatus are in the process of being checked by ship's staff and by investigators. We will not sail unless the investigators confirm that they are safe.”

Thomson added that it is working closely with the ship owners and managers, Cyprus-based Louis Cruise Lines, as well as relevant authorities to determine the cause of the incident and provide assistance to those affected. Cruise Critic is awaiting word on if and when Majesty will be allowed to leave the port.

Thomson Majesty is currently stationed in the Canaries, where it sails week-long cruises that visit La Gomera, Fuerteventura and Tenerife, among other ports.

--by Dan Askin, Senior Editor; Updated by Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor