One of our ferries sank. This is quite a shock. The Queen of the North went down in high seas along the rugged North Coast of B.C. The news so far is that all but one of the 102 people on board have been rescued by those knights in shining helicopters, 442 Squadron, Comox, and of course the Canadian Coast Guard. Local fishermen also helped with the rescue, and the passengers and crew have been taken to the remote First Nations village of Hartley Bay, where they will no doubt receive great hospitality.
This is very disturbing for an Island girl who grew up riding the ferries. There is nowhere safer on the water than on one of our ferries. The ferry workers’ union will actually walk off the job if they feel that safety has been compromised. Obviously, conditions were bad last night (75 km/h winds, according to one report), but it’s still a shock to have one of our great ladies go down.
UPDATE: Looks like all the passengers and crew have been accounted for, and there are no injuries reported (unless you count PTSD, which I do). God bless SAR techs.
UPDATE II: It appears that the ship hit a rock north of Gil Island in Wright Sound (see below). How that happened remains to be determined. With it’s single-compartment construction, sinking was inevitable once the hull was breached. There is now an oil slick covering 8 square miles of Wright Sound. The people of Hartley Bay are being hailed as heroes for reportedly transporting all of the survivors to their community before the larger Coast Guard vessels even got there. Their hospitality was overwhelming, and the survivors are now in Prince Rupert (the principal city of the North Coast) receiving accommodation and trauma counselling. (News video here)
UPDATE III: The latest news is that two people are unaccounted for and it is feared that they were somehow left behind on the ship. How that could happen is a mystery since the crew checked every stateroom and the sirens and PA were going off the whole time, plus the collision and the listing of the ship would be pretty obvious indications that something was wrong. It now seems that despite all its fancy navigational equipment the ship simply neglected to hang a left in Wright Sound and sideswiped Gil Island. Did the navigational alarms not go off, or was there no one awake to hear them? It doesn’t look good.