After a tourist boat capsized off the coast of the Algarve on Monday, British tourists described how they avoided death.
One woman said she ‘thought she was going to die’ after jumping into the water on her way back from a sea cave and discovering her life jacket wasn’t working properly.
The vessel, which was carrying 36 people, including four children, sank after taking on water.
It was nearly half a mile from the coast near Alfanzina Lighthouse near the Carvoeiro resort when the alert was issued just before 1.30pm.
After the rescue operation, dramatic photos showed the boat, which was returning with tourists from a trip to the famous Benagil sea cave, upturned and mostly submerged.
According to reliable sources, five British and two Irish nationals were on board at the time.
An investigation into the near-tragedy was launched today.
‘I was on the phone with some of my colleagues back in England and then I looked behind me and there was a lot of water coming into the boat,’ Troy French, from London, said.
‘The crew began to panic and began lifting some emergency items up, and water began to enter the engine, which was smoking.
‘They got everyone to move to the front of the boat, and then the back of the boat started sinking, sinking, sinking until everyone just started jumping into the water.
‘A lot of people’s lifejackets were failing and didn’t activate when they went into the water.
‘It was a really bad and terrifying experience.
‘It was about three minutes between the time water started coming into the boat and we started sinking, and another five to ten minutes before boats started arriving and another five to ten minutes before people started being rescued.
‘Even after we were rescued, it probably took another 10 to 15 minutes for everyone to be taken to safety.
‘I’m a confident swimmer, but I was swallowing water and panicking for people whose lifejackets weren’t working properly. I’m just relieved that everyone got out safely.’
‘I thought I was going to die,’ Troy’s non-swimmer friend Lila Evangelista, also from London, said.
‘At first, the water was not very high, and I was calm, but then it began to rise very quickly, and I began to panic.
‘The coastguards arrived a little late, when everyone was already in the big boat, which picked up the majority of those who ended up in the water,’ said one witness.
‘An alert was received at 1:25 pm local time today/yesterday (MON), via the Lisbon Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Centre, saying that a tourist vessel with about 40 people on board was taking on water and was at risk of sinking,’ said a spokesman for Portugal’s National Maritime Authority.
‘Members of the Portimao Maritime Police and the Ferragudo Lifeguard Station were immediately dispatched to the scene. Several other tourist ships also arrived in the area.
‘The people on the boat were all in the water with their life jackets on when they arrived.
‘They were rescued with the assistance of a nearby tourist boat and the Ferragudo Lifeguard Station boat.
‘A total of 36 people on board, including four children, were then taken to Portimao Marina, where paramedics, Portimao volunteer firefighters, Lagoa volunteer firefighters, Civil Protection officers, and the Portuguese Red Cross awaited.’
‘Some were showing signs of hypothermia, and they were evaluated and assisted by the medical teams on the scene, even though they did not require special medical assistance,’ it said in a statement.
The damaged vessel was later removed and towed to a shipyard in Portimao by a company hired by the shipowner.’
Most of the passengers were described as ‘foreign tourists’. Holidaymakers from Canada, France, Switzerland, Belgium, and South Korea joined the British and Irish.
There has been no word on the possible cause of the incident.»British tourists Fortunately survives a boat accident «