Scots passengers tell of 'thud' as lifeboat fell from Spanish cruise ship

A Scots couple have told of hearing a "thud" as a lifeboat fell from a cruise ship in the Canary Islands killing five people.

James and Karen McArthur are stuck on the Thomson Majesty in the port at Santa Cruz in La Palma after the accident on Sunday.

Five crew members died after the lifeboat fell during a training exercised just before 12pm. The ship’s operator, Thomson Cruises, said three of the men were from Indonesia, one from the Philippines and one from Ghana. Three other crew members were injured in the incident.

The couple, from Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, were on the second day of their week-long cruise around the canary islands when the accident happened.

Mr McArthur told STV News: "We were sitting up on the deck having lunch when we heard a thud. I said to my wife ‘somebody’s run into us’. A couple of minutes later everybody started going to the side of the ship.

"There was mention that a lifeboat had fallen off the ship. At that point we didn’t know there was anybody in the actual lifecraft.

"We went up to our room and it was the lifeboat directly outside our room that had collapsed so we could see the area and the aftermath. There was lots of people around about. The crew had just finished their exercise. It was when they had returned to the boat and the lifecraft was being lifted up that the incident happened.

"We can see the snapped cable from the window of our room. The lifecraft was upside down and has been towed into harbour near us. I think they’re trying to repair the damage."

The 49-year-old said they understood they were not allowed to sail until safety checks had been carried out but said they were getting frustrated by a lack of information.

Passengers did not even know anyone had been killed until six hours after the accident.

On Monday evening the McArthurs were informed that the cruise was to be cancelled and arrangements were being made to fly all passengers on board home. All the holidaymakers are to be offered a full refund.

Earlier in the day the captain and crew led everyone in a minute's silence for those who had lost their lives.

The snapped cable on the Thomson Majesty

Broken: The cable snapped and the lifeboat fell. © James McArthur

Investigators are trying to determine what caused the lifeboat to plummet into the water before capsizing.

The ship had been due to sail on Sunday afternoon to the Portuguese port of Funchal on the mid-Atlantic island of Madeira.

A Thomson Cruises spokesman said: "Thomson Cruises can confirm there was an incident involving the ship's crew during a safety drill on board Thomson Majesty, in La Palma, Canary Islands today at 11.50am local time.

"We can also confirm that there have sadly been five crew fatalities and three crew members injured.

"We are working closely with the ship owners and managers, Louis Cruises, to determine exactly what has happened and provide assistance to those affected by the incident. We are also working closely with all relevant authorities and will be co-operating fully with their investigations."

Thomson and the Foreign Office said there were no Britons involved.