The captain of a pleasure boat that capsized and killed an Irishman and at least 15 British people off the coast of Bahrain was being questioned today as the inquiry into the tragedy got under way.
Local prosecutors said the captain was not licensed to take charge of the boat, and the owners said it may have turned over in calm waters because of the numbers onboard.
Investigators will begin to examine whether the two-deck Arabic dhow was working properly and had met safety regulations.
Three of the British victims were named by their employer as David Evans, 56, Will Nolan, 50, and Stephen Grady, aged 42.
Chris Braysher, 47, a fourth man also identified by the firm, had joint British and South African nationality.
The men, all senior managers with South African construction company Murray & Roberts, were guests on the boat, which capsized on Thursday night less than a mile off the coast, killing 57 people.
Another British man reported to have died was engineer Scott Belch, 33, from Redhill, Surrey, along with his German wife, Sandy.
Parents Geoffrey and Sandra told The Sun: “We have only just been told by the Foreign Office that our son has been killed.
“We have been waiting all day for news of him.”
Mr Belch recently emailed family and friends to tell them that he met his fiancée on a motorcycle tour in the United States.
Construction worker David Roote, of Darlington, County Durham, was also on board but managed to escape.
His son Andrew told The Daily Mail: “My dad rang me as soon as he could to let me know he was safe. He is naturally very shaken up, but considers himself very lucky to be alive.”
UK-based construction company Atkins said five members of its Bahrain-based staff and three partners or relations have been confirmed dead.
Chief executive Keith Clarke added that one staff member and one relative were also still missing.
A worker at Delmon Readymix, a Bahrain concrete company, confirmed its employees were also involved, but declined to comment further.
The death toll also included 21 Indians, five South Africans, five Filipinos, four Singaporeans, four Pakistanis, one German and one South Korean.
Bahraini authorities confirmed last night that 67 people were rescued and two were still missing.
Most of the people on board were employees, and their partners, of the company Murray & Roberts and other firms associated with the Bahrain World Trade Centre towers construction project.
The passengers were celebrating the completion of part of the building scheme.
The tragedy occurred at about 9.45pm local time (7.45pm Irish time) shortly after the Al-Dana dhow set sail for a two-hour trip from the Marina Club in Manama, Bahrain’s capital.
Survivors said the boat capsized without any warning as it returned to the port of Al Muharraq, in the far north-east corner of the island state.
Indian survivor Jaikumar George suggested that Al-Dana was not designed to carry so many passengers.
He said: “There was something wrong with that boat. It was oscillating so strongly when other boats were stable.”
Steve Harrison, Britain’s acting Ambassador in Bahrain, said: “A number of witnesses have said the vessel was sailing under a bridge and seems to have hit some sort of bow wave and ‘turned turtle’.”
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the British government had offered to assist the authorities in Bahrain.
Robin Lamb, Britain’s Ambassador to Bahrain, who was in the UK on business, and Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells were travelling to Bahrain.