5 Dead in Lifeboat Drill; Passenger Describes 'Worrying' Incident

A lifeboat drill turned deadly when a cable snapped, dropping five people aboard a lifeboat into the water. Those five men died, and three other crewmembers were injured during the drill aboard the Thomson Majesty ship.

Approximately 1,400 passengers were aboard at the time of the deadly drill, according to reports. Crewmembers were conducting a routine test to ensure the safety of all passengers should the ship capsize or run into trouble. Unfortunately, a cable snapped and turned the lifeboat upside down, sending the five men plunging into the water.

Three Indonesians, one Filipino, and one man from Ghana were killed in the accident. Those injured included two Greek men who were 30, and one who was 32. All three were taken to the local hospital in La Palma. The accident has raised concern among seafarers' unions.

"There's been research that more people are dying in lifeboat drills than are being saved by lifeboats. It's that serious. The death toll has been such that we advise our members: if you're doing a drill, the drill is about raising and lowering the lifeboats. It shouldn't be about people actually getting into them," Andrew Linington, spokesman for Nautilus International, told Yachting & Boating World.

"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," a spokesman for Thomson said in an official statement.

The incident has shaken those who witnessed it and caused great unease among some passengers.

"The lifeboat was coming halfway down, then lurched to a halt. They were bouncing in mid-air. The winches were seizing up. It was really worrying. I'm not sure if I would go back; our lives are in their hands," passenger Terry Dobbins told Daily Mail.