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Home » Carlton Queen Capsize: Passengers Plan To Sue Owners Of Boat

Carlton Queen Capsize: Passengers Plan To Sue Owners Of Boat

Media caption, The Carlton Queen capsized in the Red Sea during a diving trip

By Caroline Lowbridge

BBC News

Passengers who narrowly escaped with their lives from a yacht when it capsized are planning legal action in order to hold the owners to account.

They do not believe the Carlton Queen, which capsized during a diving trip in the Red Sea, was seaworthy.

The size of the boat had been increased as part of a recent refurbishment, and it was visibly listing to one side after it set off from Egypt.

The owners told the BBC the matter was being investigated.

There were 26 passengers – whose nationalities included British, Belgian, Swiss and German – on board the Carlton Queen when it capsized on 24 April.

David Taylor, from Treswell in Nottinghamshire, thought he and his son Christian were going to die when they realised they were trapped below deck.

“I started to lose the plot. I really was panicking we were going to die. There was no way to get out,” he said.

He said they and a Spanish passenger, Fernando Suarez Mella, had tried and failed to open an escape hatch.

“Fernando was desperately trying to find a way to open this escape hatch but all we saw was a decorative wooden façade with no handles,” he said.

Image source, David Taylor

Image caption, David and Christian Taylor had been enjoying their trip to Egypt before the boat capsized

They were unable to walk up a set of stairs because the boat was on its side.

Christian was only able to escape by climbing up his dad, who then escaped by climbing up Fernando, who potentially sacrificed himself because there was nobody left for him to climb on.

“This for me was the hardest part of the escape, because Fernando looked up at me and he said ‘You’ve got to go’,” said David.

“He said ‘Go, you’ve got to save your son’. And I left him. And I didn’t know if he was going to survive.”

Image caption, David, Christian and Fernando could not get up the stairs, because the boat was on its side

David said he had decided to speak about what happened in order to raise awareness and warn others.

“We missed so many indicator signs that things were wrong,” he said.

“A few of our group did approach the captain with their concerns and they were told numerous things but not to worry.

“The question is, why did a brand-new refurbished boat capsize in calm waters? It makes no sense.”

The owners, Carlton Fleet, told the BBC: “The Egyptian authorities are conducting an investigation into the matter.

“We are awaiting the results of the investigation.”

Image source, Sally Nolan

Image caption, Sally Nolan, pictured here with her son in Australia, feared she might die

Sally Nolan was also among the passengers. She is British but has lived in Altea, Spain, for 20 years.

“I remember thinking it was like a scene out of a disaster movie and I may not see my children again,” she said.

She was thrown off a sofa when the boat started tipping over and had to hang on to a table leg.

“I had a horrible feeling of dread at this point and instinctively knew that the boat was going to capsize,” she said.

“The boat then went totally on its side to 90 degrees and I was left hanging on with all my strength hoping that the table was secure enough to hold me.

“My friend, Terri, who had been sat to the left of me, was unable to hold on. She fell past me over furniture and railings into the sea and I lost sight of her.”

The passengers were rescued with the help of another boat, the VIP Shrouq.

“Our friend, Fernando, still remained missing for quite a while and his story is still so hard to hear,” said Sally.

Image caption, Fernando Suarez Mella said he took the biggest breath he had ever taken to escape

Fernando, who was still trapped and unable to climb the stairs, waited until the water level inside the boat was higher, which meant he could float up.

He then reached the saloon, which was flooded, so he had to dive under the water to get out.

“I took the biggest breath I’ve ever taken in my life. I filled my lungs, because I didn’t know how long I needed to stay under the water,” he said.

Fortunately, another passenger – Christian Hanson – had the foresight to smash the glass doors leading out of the saloon. If he had not done this before the saloon flooded, the water pressure would have prevented Fernando opening the doors, and he would still have been trapped.

Image source, Pieric Deucher

Image caption, All 26 passengers were rescued, and the captain and crew also survived

A GoFundMe page has been set up by a German passenger called Dominic Schmitt, in order to fund the legal action against Carlton Fleet.

Mr Schmitt said he wanted to “make sure that no one has ever to experience what we have experienced and what could have been easily prevented”.

Michèle Colenso, who lives in Dorset, fears that other people will be killed.

“As a group we are acutely aware that a number of factors coincided so that we were all rescued, most significantly the fact the incident occurred in daylight and we were a single group with an unusually high degree of survival and rescue training,” Michèle said.

She believes there are wider problems with diving boats in Egypt, because they are often refurbished to increase their size, due to a restriction on building new boats.

“We would like to see significant improvements to how maritime practices are applied to diving services worldwide and especially in Egypt,” she said.

Image source, M Jalass

Image caption, Michèle Colenso (in the foreground, wearing a grey and green top) fears other people will be killed

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