The Globe and Mail has just updated their website with further details of the sinking of the Queen of the North. There is some discrepancy between the numbers accounted for and those that appeared on reservation sheets and passenger mainfests.
For the benefit of those that don't have access to the Globe site, we provide the article below.
Couple may be missing after ferry crash
TERRY WEBER AND SCOTT DEVEAU
Globe and Mail Update
Two people may be missing after a passenger ferry carrying more than 100 people struck a rock in the dead of night and sank in choppy waters near Gil Island in Wright Sound.
Coast Guard officials had previously said all passengers and crew aboard B.C. Ferries' Queen of the North were accounted for, but confirmed with globeandmail.com that two people, who had made a reservation with the ferry, have yet to be located.
Coast Guard Captain Leah Byrne said the RCMP are helping with the search for Gerald Foisy and Shirley Rosette, both of whom had booked reservations on the ferry. The pair, both from 100 Mile House, were travelling together, officials said.
Capt. Byrne said no one has heard from the pair, including their families, but that there was no confirmation that they were actually on the ferry.
Anyone who knows of there whereabouts is asked to contact police or the rescue effort.
The rescue efforts continue on the scene.
"We're continuing to check and double check and triple check," Coast Guard Captain Leah Byrne said. "Just as a precautionary measure, we still have a vessel in the area."
She couldn't say how long the final sweep of the area would take or when the search effort would officially be concluded.
The accident happened shortly after midnight on Wednesday.
The Queen of the North — carrying 101 passengers and crew — was sailing south to Port Hardy from Prince Rupert, a 450-kilometre trip along what is known as B.C.'s Inside Passage, a series of islands just off the north coast of the province.
The 125-metre-long vessel had left Prince Rupert about 8 p.m. PST on Tuesday and was about five hours into the trip when the accident happened.
The Coast Guard said it took about an hour for the ferry to sink, allowing time for all passengers — some of whom were asleep at the time of the accident — and crew to make their way to safety.
The 101 passengers and crew members aboard B.C. Ferries' Queen of the North were safely taken from the scene in lifeboats.
Those aboard were taken to Hartley Bay — a tiny coastal community about 120 kilometres south of Prince Rupert and accessible only by air and water — where members of the community provided shelter and comfort. Passengers were then taken on to Prince Rupert on a Coast Guard vessel later in the day.
Appearing on CBC Newsworld, B.C. Ferries president David Hahn refused to speculate on what went wrong, but noted that the vessel involved had travelled the same waters "many, many times over many years."
"I think something went catastrophically wrong," he said, adding the immediate focus is making sure passengers and crew are cared for.
"We'll have to dig through the evidence. We don't want to draw any quick conclusions. Everybody's asking me to guess, what it is. I refuse to do it."
"I think you want a proper investigation."
Both Transport Canada and the Transportation Safety Board have been notified of the incident.
Safety board spokesman John Cottreau said three marine investigators from the TSB's Richmond office heading for the scene and would be joined by five specialists from Ottawa.
He said the downed ferry would not be raised but instead probably will be examined using divers and remote operated vehicles.
"Also, as part of data gathering we're going to be conducting interviews with passengers and certainly with the crew," he told globeandmail.com. "This is the type of data gather that we'll be doing in the first few days, and we'll be exploring how best to gather data from the vessel itself."
He could not say how long he investigation would take.
"An investigation is an interesting thing," he said. "It can lead you anywhere, and any door you open can lead you to another 15, so there's no speculating on how much time it can take."
The goal of the probe, he added, will be to learn lessons from this incident in the hope of making transportation safer.
B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell was to travel to Prince Rupert with Mr. Hahn Wednesday to meet with the crew and passengers of the vessel.
In a statement, Mr. Campbell promised an "extensive review" of the accident to find out what went wrong.
"This was undoubtedly a harrowing experience and I am heartened to learn that all passengers and crew on the Queen of the North were able to get off the ship and be rescued without serious injuries," Mr. Cambell said, hailing both crew members, private vessel operators and Hartley Bay residents for their efforts.
"Once again, those whose lives depend on the sea and who live in coastal communities have come to the aid of those who need assistance," he said.
"Our immediate attention is directed at the care and comfort of the passengers and crew. The Provincial Emergency Program and Emergency Social Services are already providing support on the ground in Prince Rupert."
According to federal figures, there were 25 incidents involving ferries last year. Nine serious injuries were reported in three of those accidents.
In the past 10 years, two fatalities were reported as a result of accidents involving ferries, although neither involved passengers or crew members onboard those vessels. In September, 2000, two people on a power boat were killed when it collided with the Spirit of Vancouver near Victoria.
Nicole Robinson, a receptionist at the nursing station in Hartley Bay, said she talked to several members of the ferry's crew who were sleeping when the ship began to take on water.
"They heard a loud bang like it grinded a bit and they said the cabin started filling with water," she said.
Some people were hurt, but not seriously, Ms. Robinson said. Many were "stunned."
"We've just had a few patients come and go, minor injuries, the community all got together with blankets, everybody's pretty cold but they're all down at a community hall," she said.
Some reports suggested fishing trawlers responded to the initial call and helped in the rescue. Seas were reported to be choppy and winds were blowing at about 75 kilometres an hour.
According to the B.C. Ferries website, the ship was built in Germany in 1969 and refitted in 2001. It can hold up to 700 people and 115 cars.
The book The Ships of British Columbia says B.C. Ferries bought the boat for $13.8-million in 1974 and named it the Queen of Surrey. The ferry was retired in 1976.
When B.C. Ferries decided to put it on the Queen Charlotte run in 1980, more than $10-million was spent to prepare it as The Queen of the North.
Wednesday's incident is not the first in recent memory involving a B.C. ferry.
Last June, the Queen of Oak Bay ferry lost power on its approach to the Horseshoe Bay terminal last week and the captain steered the vessel into a marina, where it crushed 22 boats. A missing cotter pin has been cited as the probable cause of that accident.
With Canadian Press files.
Recent B.C. Ferries accidents
June 30, 2005: Ferry Queen of Oak Bay loses power as it enters the Horseshoe Bay terminal at West Vancouver, slamming into a nearby marina and crushing 22 boats. There were no injuries.
Sept. 14, 2000: Ferry Spirit of Vancouver Island hits a 10-metre power boat outside the Swartz Bay ferry terminal near Victoria. Two people on the power boat are killed.
Nov. 7, 1995: Ferry Mayne Queen crashes into private marina on Bowen Island, damaging several moored boats. Blame is placed on mechanical or human error in transferring control between two consoles as ferry left dock.
Aug. 13, 1992: Two people are killed at the Departure Bay terminal in Nanaimo when the ferry Queen of New Westminster sailed from the terminal as a van was driving across the ramp leading to the ship's upper deck and plunged 15 metres into the water.
March 12, 1992: B.C. Ferries vessel en route to Nanaimo slams into Japanese coal freighter Shinwa Maru shortly after leaving the Tsawwassen ferry terminal south of Vancouver. Seventeen ferry passengers injured.
Feb. 6, 1992: Private high-speed catamaran passenger ferry Royal Vancouver collides with B.C. Ferries' Queen of Saanich in early-morning fog in Active Pass. Some 23 Royal Vancouver passengers injured. Inquiry blames fast ferry for not tracking bigger car ferry on radar.
August 1985: Ferry Queen of Cowichan runs over pleasure boat near Horseshoe Bay terminal in West Vancouver, killing three people.