British-Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman are among the five on board the missing Titanic submarine, his family confirmed on Tuesday. The Dawood family issued a statement confirming that two family members were on board the mission and that they have lost communication, Pakistan-based Dawn reported. Shahzada Dawood and his son had embarked on the journey to see the wreckage of the Titanic in the Atlantic Ocean.
Shahzada Dawood, one of Pakistan's richest men, is based in the UK and is a trustee at the SETI Institute. He joined the Board of Engro Corporation in 2003 and currently serves as its vice chairman.
"All of us at @britishasiantst are absolutely devastated by the terrible news that our great friend and supporter Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman are on board the missing Titanic submarine," said Richard Hawkes, CEO of British Asian Trust.
All of us at @britishasiantst are absolutely devastated by the terrible news that our great friend and supporter Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman are on board the missing Titanic submarine. Our prayers and thoughts are with family & friends in the UK & Pakistan.— Richard Hawkes (@R_Hawkes) June 20, 2023
Besides the duo, British adventurer Hamish Harding is also on the missing submarine, which was on a tourism expedition to explore the wreckage of the Titanic. Harding, the chairman of aircraft firm Action Aviation, is a renowned explorer who has flown to space and holds three Guinness World Records, BBC reported on Tuesday.
Harding has also visited the South Pole multiple times, flown into space in 2022 onboard Blue Origin's fifth human-crewed flight, and set three world records - including the longest time spent at full ocean depth during a dive to the deepest part of the Mariana Trench.
In a Facebook post, Harding said due to the worst winter in Newfoundland in 40 years, this mission was likely to be the first and only manned mission to the Titanic in 2023. He said a ship had set off from the city of St John's, in Newfoundland, Canada, for the destination of the Titanic wreck.
The submarine went missing off the coast of southeastern Canada. Submersible operator OceanGate, in a brief statement on Monday, said it was exploring and mobilisng all options to bring the crew back safely. "Our entire focus is on the crewmembers in the submersible and their families."
French explorer Paul-Henry Nargeolet is also thought to be on board, BBC reported citing the Facebook post by Harding before the dive started. Stockton Rush, chief executive of OceanGate, is also widely reported to be on the vessel, the report said, adding that contact with the small sub was lost about an hour and 45 minutes into its dive in the mid-Atlantic on Sunday.
The wreck of the Titanic lies about 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, a Canadian province. OceanGate is currently operating its fifth Titanic "mission" of 2023, according to its website.
The expeditions, which cost $250,000 per person, start in St. John's, Newfoundland, before heading out approximately 400 miles (640 km) into the Atlantic to the wreckage site, according to OceanGate's website.
In order to visit the wreck, passengers climb inside Titan, the five-person submersible, which takes two hours to descend approximately 12,500 feet (3,800 m) to the Titanic.
The British passenger ship sank in 1912 on its maiden voyage after striking an iceberg, killing more than 1,500 people. The story has been immortalized in nonfiction and fiction books as well as the 1997 blockbuster movie "Titanic."
(With inputs from Reuters)