Titanic sub: Tributes to men killed in ‘catastrophic implosion’ of missing OceanGate Titan submersible
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Tributes are pouring in for the five men confirmed to have died onboard the missing sub, OceanGate’s Titan. The news came on Thursday night as US Coast Guard officials said a debris field found earlier that day was identified as belonging to the missing sub.
Five major pieces were detected amid a debris field discovered around the Titanic site. Among them, a nose cone, the cover of the pressure hull, and a larger debris field. Officials have ruled out the possibility of recovering the bodies of the victims due to the ‘unforgiving environment’.
OceanGate hailed the passengers as “true explorers” who shared a “deep passion for exploring”. It added: “We grieve the loss of life and joy they brought to everyone they knew.”
The five individuals on board were British billionaire Hamish Harding, British businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, OceanGate founder Stockton Rush, and French pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet.
The family of Hamish Harding, 58, described him as “a guide, an inspiration, a support and a living legend” and labelled the businessman a “passionate explorer.” His loved ones said: “He was one of a kind and we adored him. He was a passionate explorer – whatever the terrain – who lived his life for his family, his business and for the next adventure.
“What he achieved in his lifetime was truly remarkable and if we can take any small consolation from this tragedy, it’s that we lost him doing what he loved.”
Once a member of the Explorers Club, Mr Harding visited the South Pole several times during his lifetime and broke a Guinness World Record for circumnavigation of the Earth using an aircraft.
Mr Harding’s family said “he will leave a gap in our lives that can never be filled” - but added that the extensive search and rescue effort would have made him proud.
The family of Pakistani-born businessman Shahzada Dawood and his 19-year-old son, Suleman also paid tribute, stating a “difficult period of mourning has begun” and that they’re feeling “profound grief”.
The statement adds: “We are truly grateful to all those involved in the rescue operations. Their untiring efforts were a source of strength for us during this time.”
TV stations across Pakistan halted broadcasts to announce the deaths and government officials shared their condolences. Salman Sufi, an adviser to Pakistan’s prime minister Shahbaz Sharif, tweeted: “Very sad and unfortunate news. Prayers for the families of deceased. Mr Dawood and family are in our prayers.”
Suleman was a 19-year-old university student who reportedly felt “terrified” about the excursion. According to NBC news, his aunt Azmeh Dawood said he changed his mind as the trip coincided with Father’s Day.
CEO of OceanGate’s US division and founder of the company, Stockton Rush, has been described by a fellow friend as a ‘risk-taker with vision’. Meanwhile, French pilot and Navy veteran, Paul-Henri Nargeolet, was described by his workplace as an ‘iconic and inspirational leader’.