Falling Lifeboat Kills Five In Canary Islands

Five people have been killed after a lifeboat fell from a cruiseliner and capsized in the sea, trapping its victims in the Canary Islands.

It happened during a safety drill on board the Thomson Majesty cruise ship while the vessel was docked at the pier of the port of Santa Cruz in La Palma.

Those killed during the exercise were all reported to be crew, including three Indonesians, a Filipino and a man from Ghana.

A further three suffered injuries -  two Greek nationals and a Filipino - and received treatment at a hospital on the holiday island, west of Tenerife.

About 1,400 passengers were on board, but none were involved.

Thomson Cruises issued a statement, saying "there was an incident involving the ship's crew during a safety drill".

"We can also confirm that there have sadly been five crew fatalities and three crew members injured.

"One person has been discharged from hospital and we expect the other two people to be released from hospital imminently.

"Our thoughts are with the families of those involved.

"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. We are also working closely with all relevant authorities and will be co-operating fully with their investigations."

An investigation has begun to determine what caused the lifeboat to plunge into the water.

Spanish national broadcaster RTVE said the lifeboat fell while staff were conducting an evacuation drill on the cruise ship.

Television images showed a small, white two-hulled lifeboat capsized beside the ship.

One passenger, who did not wish to be named, told Sky News that passengers were being asked to stay off the deck.

He said the lifeboat was still in the sea, and that he had seen two bodies pulled from the water.

The 40,000-tonne cruise ship was due to sail to Funchal, the capital of Madeira but is now being held in the dock.