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Thomson Majesty liner: Five crew members killed and three injured after lifeboat falls into sea off Canary Islands cruise ship
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A winter cruise holiday for hundreds of Britons in the Canary Islands was hit by tragedy today when five crew members died during a routine emergency drill.
The Thomson Majesty liner had arrived in the port of the island of La Palma just three hours earlier from Gran Canaria for a six-hour stopover en route to Funchal, Madeira, when the incident occurred.
Eyewitnesses said a lifeboat with eight crew members who were taking part in the exercise fell from a height of 65ft on an upper deck into the water, trapping the men underneath.
Close-up: Eyewitnesses said a lifeboat with eight crew members who were taking part in the exercise fell from a height of 65ft on an upper deck into the water, trapping the men underneath
Tragic incident: A rescue helicopter is seen next to the Thomson Majesty cruise ship at the Santa Cruz pier
Five crew members - three Indonesians, a Filipino and a Ghanaian - died and a further three were seriously injured. Two were Greek and the other was an Indonesian man, all aged 30 to 32.
The tragedy happened just before noon today as the giant liner, which is the latest addition to the Thomson cruise fleet, was carrying out a mandatory rescue drill in the port.
Local harbourmaster Antonio Padrón said the early indications were that the lifeboat had plunged into the water after a mechanical failure.
Many passengers had left the ship a short time earlier to tour the Carnival celebrations in Santa Cruz, the capital of La Palma .About 1,400 were on board, but none were involved in the accident.
Rescue workers: The five people killed were crew of the Thompson Majesty, operated by Thomson Cruises
Concern: The local harbourmaster said the early indications were that the lifeboat had plunged into the water after a mechanical failure
Location: The Thomson Majesty liner had arrived in the port of the island of La Palma (pictured) just three hours earlier from Gran Canaria for a six-hour stopover en route to Funchal, Madeira, when the incident occurred
LUXURY CRUISES ON THE MAJESTY
The Thomson Majesty - a nine-deck boat measuring 679ft by 92ft with a speed of 19 knots - has five restaurants, five bars, two lounges, a casino, two swimming pools, a library and fitness centre. It can carry up to 1,462 passengers along with 600 staff.
A seven-night cruise of the Canary Islands on the boat, leaving in February or March, costs £600 per person for a two-person cabin online, including return flights from London to Tenerife.
The town’s authorities said the celebrations will continue despite the tragic accident.
A spokesman for British firm Thomson Cruises issued a statement after the incident, saying the company 'is aware of an incident involving the ship's crew on board Thomson Majesty, in La Palma, Canary Islands this afternoon'.
'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,' he added.
A regional government statement said rescuers were called to the dockside at 12:05pm after 'a lifeboat with occupants had fallen overboard from a cruise ship docked at the pier of Santa Cruz'.
The Thomson Majesty is based at Santa Cruz on the nearby island of Tenerife and takes holidaymakers on tours around Spain's Canary Islands and the Portuguese island of Madeira.
The incident happened just 13 months after the cruise industry was rocked by the Costa Concordia tragedy in which 32 people died.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: 'We are aware, and we are seeking further information.'