British Columbia

Tofino 'somber' after whale-watching tragedy, says Mayor Josie Osborne

Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne says the response from her community to the deaths of five people while on a whale-watching tour in the waters nearby has been "nothing short of phenomenal."

Of 27 people on board when boat sank Sunday, 5 dead, 1 still missing

'I expect the mood will quite sombre and reflective and very much focused on those people who lost their lives,' said Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne, on Monday morning.

Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne says the response from her community to the deaths of five people while on a whale-watching tour in the waters nearby has been "nothing short of phenomenal."

Twenty-seven people were on board MV Leviathan II, operated by Jamie's Whaling Station, when it sank west of Vargas Island, B.C., on Sunday.

One of them is still missing, while 21 others have been rescued. The five who died were all British citizens, although one lived in B.C. and another lived in Ontario. Four were men and one was a woman.

Tofino residents dropped cards and flowers at a small memorial on the First Street dock where the dead and survivors were brought ashore.

Several vessels responded to the distress call including the Canadian Coast Guard in Tofino. 

Local water taxi companies, the Ahousaht First Nation and other private vessels all aided in recovery efforts.

"This community got into action right away and stepped up to the plate," said Osborne.

Tofino is a tight-knit town of less than 2,000 people. Some near the water offered their homes to recovered survivors desperately in need of warmth. Many others woke up to the news.

The death of five tourists has touched the community of Tofino. (Chris Corday/CBC)

"I expect the mood will quite sombre and reflective and very much focused on those people who lost their lives," said Osborne.

The town has received a wave of support on social media from other communities on Vancouver Island and the South Coast.

Osborne says a community potluck is being organized for Monday night for those affected by the tragedy.

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