News

Search continues for missing Australian

Peter Mitchell - AAP

As the search for a 27-year-old Sydney man continues off Canada’s Vancouver Island, new details have emerged of the surprise and horror passengers on the sinking whale watching boat endured.

Matt Brown, the regional coroner for the Island Region of the British Columbia Coroners Service, described on Tuesday “a very chaotic situation”.

Survivors told how the MV Leviathan II was hit by a wave and rolled several times, tossing passengers around like rag dolls.

The five British nationals who died were on the top, open deck of the boat, he said.

There were 21 survivors.

“I believe the incident took place very quickly,” Mr Brown said.

Authorities, including divers, were searching the area as well as small islands near where the boat sank on Sunday.

The Australian, who has not been named, was on the boat with his girlfriend and her family.

“I understand he is still missing,” Mr Brown said.

The missing man’s distraught parents and brother will fly to Canada on Wednesday.

“There’s some discussions on doing land searches on the various local islands throughout in the event the passenger was able to get to shore and is on one of those small islands,” Royal Canadian Mounted Police corporal Janelle Shoihet told AAP.

“That should be going ahead as well and some volunteer boats will be out with RCMP members today.”

Survivors have told how when a large, freak wave struck the ship, it began to sink quickly. Crew members were able to set off flares to alert boats nearby to help.

Corporal Shoihet said conditions on the water were favourable for Tuesday’s search.

AAP has been told by the family of the missing Sydney man that he was on the MV Leviathan II with his girlfriend and her family when it went down.

His girlfriend’s father was one of five British citizens confirmed dead.

Two other Brits who died were David Thomas, 50, and son Stephen, 17, who had Down’s Syndrome.

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