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Boat deaths cut deeply for twins

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TOFINO, B.C.—Twin sisters with British roots say the deaths of five people in a whale-watching boat that capsized off the west coast of Vancouver Island cut even deeper knowing the deceased were from the United Kingdom.

Trudi and Astrid Castle said yesterday they feel connected to the disaster, which is under investigation.

The sisters grew up in London but Trudi now lives in Vancouver while Astrid makes her home in Berlin.

They were vacationing in the remote village of Tofino, B.C. to get away from the hustle of city life when they heard about the deaths of five Britons, ranging from age 18-76.

An Australian man remains missing.

“It’s just completely tragic,” said Astrid Castle, who visited Tofino’s First Street dock overlooking the Pacific Ocean and nearby islands where the vessel is believed to have rolled Sunday during a big wave.

“It’s sad if it happens to anyone, and then when you hear [they were] British, it also feels a lot more like really awful to hear, especially as tourists here,” Castle added.

“I’m gathering they were all tourists, as well, and they were just coming for a nice time, a nice holiday,” she noted.

“And they go out and something like that happens.”

A police dive team made its second attempt yesterday afternoon to search the whale-watching boat, which capsized near Vargas Island, about 12 km from Tofino, with 27 passengers and crew on board.

Heavy waves prevented RCMP officers from conducting a morning search, but receding winds gave them another chance to survey the vessel.

The Transportation Safety Board is hoping to recover electronic equipment that could establish the vessel’s location and condition when it capsized.

The TSB has said sightseeing passengers crowded the top deck of the vessel when it was hit by a wave and then rolled—sending people into the water.

“We know that most passengers and crew were on the top deck on the port side . . . this would have raised the centre of gravity, affecting the vessel’s stability,” Marc-Andre Poisson, the TSB’s director of marine investigations, said Tuesday.

“We also know that the sea conditions were such that the wave approached the vessel from the starboard quarter,” he added.

“We know the vessel broached and then capsized.”

Members of the missing Australian man’s family arrived at an airport near Tofino yesterday but did not comment as they left in a waiting vehicle.

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