Passengers who narrowly escaped their lives from a yacht when it capsized are considering legal action to hold the owners to account.
They don’t believe the Carlton Queen, which capsized while diving in the Red Sea, was seaworthy.
The boat had been increased in size as part of a recent refurbishment, and it was visibly tilted to one side after leaving Egypt.
The owners, Carlton Fleet, did not respond to the BBC.
There were 26 passengers – whose nationalities included British, Belgian, Swiss and German – on board the Carlton Queen when it capsized on April 24.
David Taylor, from Treswell in Nottinghamshire, thought he and his son Christian were going to die when they realized they were trapped under the bridge.
“I started losing the plot. I was really freaking out, we were going to die. There was no way out,” he said.
He said they and a Spanish passenger, Fernando Suarez Mella, tried unsuccessfully 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 front with no handles,” he said.
They were unable to climb stairs because the boat was on its side.
Christian was only able to escape by climbing his father, who then escaped by climbing Fernando, who potentially sacrificed himself as he had no one left to climb on.
“For me, that was the hardest part of the breakout, because Fernando looked at me and he said, ‘You have to go,'” David said.
“He said ‘Go ahead, you have to save your son’. And I left him. And I didn’t know if he was going to survive.”
David said he decided to speak out about what happened in order to raise awareness and warn others.
“We missed so many telltale signs that things weren’t right,” he said.
“A few of our group have approached the captain with their concerns and have been told many things but don’t worry.
“The question is, why did a brand new, refurbished boat capsize in calm waters? It makes no sense.”
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 from a disaster movie and maybe I won’t see my kids again,” she said.
She was thrown off a sofa when the boat started to rock and had to hold on to a table leg.
“I had a horrible feeling of dread at that moment and instinctively knew the boat was going to capsize,” she said.
“The boat then rolled completely on its side at 90 degrees and I held on with all my might hoping the table was secure enough to hold me.
“My friend, Terri, who was sitting to my left, couldn’t help herself. She fell in front of 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, has been missing for quite a while and his story is still so hard to hear,” Sally said.
Fernando, who was still stuck and unable to climb the stairs, waited until the water level inside the boat was higher, which meant he could float.
He then reached the saloon, which was flooded, so he had to dive underwater to get out.
“I took the deepest breath I’ve ever taken in my life. I filled my lungs, because I didn’t know how long I needed to stay underwater,” he said. -he declares.
Fortunately, another passenger – Christian Hanson – had the foresight to break the glass doors leading to the lounge exit. If he hadn’t done so before the saloon flooded, the water pressure would have prevented Fernando from opening the doors, and he would still have been trapped.
A GoFundMe page has been set up by a German passenger named Dominic Schmitt, to fund the legal action against Carlton Fleet.
Mr Schmitt said he wanted to ‘make sure no one ever goes through what we went through and what could have been easily avoided’.
Michèle Colenso, who lives in Dorset, fears more people could be killed.
“As a group, we are acutely aware that a number of factors coincided in our all being rescued, the most important being the fact that the incident happened in broad daylight and we were a single group with an unusually high degree of survival and rescue training,” Michèle said. .
She thinks there are wider issues with dive boats in Egypt, as they are often refurbished to increase in size, due to a restriction on building new boats.
“We would like to see significant improvements in the way maritime practices are applied to dive services around the world and especially in Egypt,” she said.
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