The firm responsible for the missing Titanic submersible took “far too long” to contact authorities after losing contact with it, a family member of one the vessel’s passengers has reportedly said.
Kathleen Cosnett, a cousin of British billionaire Hamish Harding who is one of five people on board the craft, is reported to have criticised OceanGate for not alerting the US Coast Guard to its disappearance sooner. The vessel, named Titan, lost communication with tour operators on Sunday while about 435 miles south of St John’s, Newfoundland, during a voyage to the Titanic shipwreck off the coast of Canada.
Titan was reported missing eight hours after the Polar Prince, the boat the submersible launched from, lost contact with it. Her criticism comes as rescuers are engaged in a race against time to find the missing sub before its oxygen supply is expected to run out at around midday UK time.
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Ms Cosnett, 69, told The Telegraph: “It’s very frightening. [It] took so long for them to get going to rescue [them], it’s far too long. I would have thought three hours would be the bare minimum.”
She said it was “worrying” that Mr Harding and the four others on board – UK-based businessman Shahzada Dawood, his son Suleman Dawood, OceanGate’s chief executive and founder Stockton Rush and, reportedly, French submersible pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet – “may not have any extra oxygen left”.
Robert Evans, Mr Harding’s godson, said the family were first made aware that the vessel had gone missing late on Sunday evening.
“I heard the sub had lost contact through family who were in contact with them [OceanGate] roughly when I was going to sleep [at around 11pm]”, he told the paper.
“At that time we as a family started scrambling to spread the word and get help. And we did call the UK Coastguard and Foreign [Commonwealth and Development] Office. We called them very early on.”
OceanGate has been contacted by express.co.uk for comment.