Tofino whale-watching boat capsized after wave struck, says TSB

Most of the passengers and crew on the whale-watching boat that capsized near Tofino, B.C., on Sunday appear to have been on one side of the vessel's top deck when it was hit by a wave, says the Transportation Safety Board.

Transportation Safety Board says most passengers were standing on one side of top deck

The Leviathan II capsized on Sunday near Tofino, B.C., killing five passengers, with one other still missing. (CBC)

Most of the passengers and crew on the whale-watching boat that capsized near Tofino, B.C., on Sunday appear to have been on one side of the vessel's top deck when it was hit by a wave, the Transportation Safety Board said at a news conference in Tofino. 

"This would have raised the centre of gravity, affecting the vessel's stability," said Marc-André Poisson, the TSB's director of marine investigations.

He said the vessel then rolled and capsized. 

Marc-André Poisson, the TSB's director of marine investigations, said that passengers on the top deck would have raised the centre of gravity, affecting the vessel's stability. (CBC)

"None of this preliminary information should be used in isolation to draw any conclusions at this point," said Poisson.

Poisson said four TSB investigators have interviewed the crew and some of the survivors of the ship since arriving Monday on the scene, and have been working closely with the RCMP. 

In an earlier update, Poisson had said a thorough investigation could take months, but he said on Tuesday that preliminary conclusions may be presented earlier.

"If we uncover serious safety deficiencies throughout this investigation, we won't wait for the final report to make them known," he said. 

Poisson said the investigators' next steps will be to inspect the vessel, including electronics on board and any modifications that may have been made that could have affected its stability.

There were 27 people on board the MV Leviathan II when it capsized on the weekend, including three crew members. The B.C. Coroners Service confirmed the names of the five victims, all British nationals. One more passenger, an Australian man, is still missing.

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      RCMP dive team finds debris

      Earlier on Tuesday, the RCMP dive team said it had found debris from the boat at the site of the capsizing. 

      RCMP Const. Jim Preston said that meant there might still be a recoverable body in the area.

      Preston said conditions got too rough for the team to continue, but it will head back on the water on Wednesday — probably for the last time.

      The RCMP dive team has been searching for debris from the whale-watching vessel that capsized on Sunday near Tofino, B.C. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

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