La Palma, Canary Islands: A lifeboat being used on a safety drill aboard a docked cruise ship in Spain's Canary Islands has fallen about 20 metres into the water when a cable snapped, trapping crew members beneath it and killing five of them.
None of the hundreds of passengers aboard the British-operated ship were involved in the accident, which also injured three crew members, said the Canary Islands port authority.
Divers raced to the lifeboat, which had hit the water upside down, recovering four bodies and trying without success to revive a fifth crewman who had stopped breathing, the authority said.
An orange rescue boat is seen docked by a capsized lifeboat in Santa Cruz port of the Canary Island of La Palma, Spain. Photo: AP
Thomson Cruises confirmed the accident and the casualties aboard its Thomson Majesty ship on the island of La Palma, saying the three injured crewmen were not badly hurt.
The ship docked at the island's port of Santa Cruz on Sunday morning, after arriving there from the neighbouring island of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. It was due to depart at 3pm for Funchal on the mid-Atlantic island of Madeira with 1498 passengers and 594 crew aboard, the authority said.
At 10.30am a drill consisting of lowering a lifeboat with crew members aboard began.
A lifeboat remains in the sea after falling from a cruise liner killing 5 people during a safety drill while it was docked at La Palma in the Canary Islands on February 10, 2013. Photo: AFP
About an hour later, when the lifeboat was being hoisted back up to the deck, a cable holding it snapped and a hook holding the lifeboat on a second cable gave way, sending the lifeboat plunging into the port upside down, the authority said in a statement.
An alarm was sounded and port authorities were alerted.
The dead crewmen included three Indonesians, a Filipino and a Ghanian, authorities said.
Local authorities of La Palma cancelled Carnival festivities that had been due to be held on the island on Sunday, but said they would go ahead as planned on Monday.