2 dead in Ferry Accident

PRINCE RUPERT, B.C. (CP) - Two passengers are now believed to have died in the sinking of a B.C. Ferry, despite early reports that all aboard were rescued.

B.C. Ferries president David Hahn said Thursday hope began fading when reports the middle-aged couple was seen among rescued passengers Wednesday turned out to be false. "They're likely on the ship," he said. "I would prefer that we're sitting here 12 hours from now and they turn up somewhere. I'd be thrilled. I think everybody would.

"(But) I don't have data that steers me to another point. I don't like it. It's a bad scenerio."

The Queen of the North sank early Wednesday morning about an hour after striking a rock near Gil Island. The ship was four hours into its 15-hour trip through the Inside Passage to Port Hardy from Prince Rupert.

Initial reports claimed all the passengers and crew had made it to Hartley Bay, a remote First Nations village not far from the wreck site.

But the numbers fluctuated from 99 to 102, partly because B.C. Ferries had no firm idea who was actually on board the ship, Hahn admitted.

There is no procedure to confirm who boarded the ship after booking a ticket, he said.

"There were at least three or four instances of, if you will, shifting of passengers on board the vessel," said Hahn.

For example, an employee gave his girlfriend a pass, which is against the rules.

In another case, one member of a party of four passengers opted not to travel. There was also a school group aboard in which one student was substituted for another without changing the name on the manifest, Hahn said.

But there's every indication Gerald Foisy and Shirley Rosette, both of 100 Mile House, B.C., did board the vessel.

Foisy's brother, George Foisy, saw them off at the dock Tuesday evening, his last memory of them a digital image in his camera.

Hahn said B.C. Ferries contacted the couple's relatives to find out if they had found their own way out of Hartley Bay, which has no road and is accessible only by water and air.

RCMP were still checking Hartley Bay but Hahn said there's now no sign they were ever there.

"What we're doing right now is checking into all the rumours and unconfirmed reports that we heard yesterday that the people were seen here and there," said Const. Alain Beulieu.

Hahn refused to fault the ship's crew for any mixup. The crew has been widely praised for the cool way they handled the evacuation.

"I know that they specifically went through and knocked on every door," he said.

"Did they go through and open each and every cabin door? I don't know the answer to that yet and won't do until they do all the interviews."

Other passengers told of being hussled out of their cabins by crewmembers and helped into lifejackets.

Hahn said it's hard to believe Foisy and Rosette could have slept through the crisis - alarms ringing, the ship listing on its side and the sound of water rushing into the vessel through a large gash in its bottom.

"This is a pretty catastrophic tearing of the hull," he said. "So for that ship to take on that much water, the amount of noise and effort, it's pretty hard to imagine somebody couldn't have heard it."

Hahn said the first priority, along with containing any potential environmental damage, will be to investigate the wreck for any sign of the missing couple.

The ship could be as far as 350 metres beneath the surface.

There's still little indication of how the ferry, which can carry up to 700 passengers, ended up striking a rock in a well-charted channel it transits regularly.

"There was any number of different radars, GPS, electronic charting systems, everything," said Hahn.

"The ship was clearly off course when something occurred ...There was more than enough electronic information there that should have triggered some sort of concern around the location of the ship."

Hahn said crew members were allowed to rest Wednesday and formal interviews began Thursday.

Hahn did not know how fast the ferry was going as it entered Wright Sound but said a normal nighttime cruising speed might be between 15 and 21 knots.

Passengers loitered in Prince Rupert hotels, most dressed in the clothes they wore the night of the sinking or, if they fled in pyjamas, clothes donated by Hartley Bay residents.

A number were waiting to be interviewed by B.C. Ferries officials and government investigators.

One of them was Capt. Edward Dahlgren, B.C. Ferries' supervising captain for its northern service.

Dahlgren was travelling on the Queen of the North on company business and was asleep in his cabin when the ship ran aground.

He lost his belongings, including his car.

"Some of my effects now reside in a different place," he said wryly.

Dahlgren would not comment on the accident but praised the ship's crew and the passengers.

"We can't thank our passengers enough that they prevented this situation from getting out of hand by obeying the directions of the officers and crew and behaving in an exemplary manner," he said.

"My officers and crew fulfilled their obligation and the laws of the sea in the finest traditions."
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This is really a shame.
Supposedly from what I heard it sank like the Titanic.

And on an more important note it is kind of scary to think about the system the B.C ferries has for registering its passengers. Anyone could have gotten on and anyone could of gotten off, who knows.

Not only is it apart of this tragedy which has possibly resulted in the deaths of two people because of that system but it is also open to a terrorist attack.
Haggis McBagpipe
You know what I find odd, there hasn't been one word (that I've seen) about the captain of the ship. No quote, no remarks, nothing. Has anybody else heard anything? It seems more than a bit unusual.
Nope, not a word.

Word is going around at the base that he was probably pounding back drinks at the bar.

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