A British man has spoken of how his dream holiday turned into a "nightmare" after a 137ft yacht capsized in an area known as Egypt’s “Bermuda Triangle”.
David Taylor, 53, from Nottinghamshire, was travelling with his 21-year-old son Christian and said he “lost the plot” when he realised the dive boat was capsizing last month.
He told The Telegraph he “started to panic” when he thought he wouldn’t be able to protect his son.
Terrifying video footage shows the boat capsizing in the Red Sea with 26 guests on board. It took less than an hour for the Carlton Queen to sink to the bottom of the sea.
Screams can be heard as the video shows one person jumping into the sea near Hurghada and the entrance to the Suez Canal.
People can be seen clutching onto debris as the yacht slips into the sea during the incident on 24 April.
Everyone on the yacht was rescued and rushed to safety. Three divers suffered minor injuries, the company said.
Footage from one of our fellow divers onboard the Carlton Queen documenting its sinking and our rescue. We are currently trying to raise funds for those that lost their livelihoods as diving instructors through Go Fund Me. Please share. https://t.co/cWQkYazn2c pic.twitter.com/uwggFRewLM
— Toby Meadows (@MeadowsToby) May 4, 2023
Mr Taylor, who works as an architectural technician, said he woke up to see fish swimming outside his cabin window instead of the sky.
He told The Telegraph: “We were shouting for help and heard crashing above us and had this deep-seated feeling of dread that something terrible was happening.
“When we realised we couldn’t escape by the stairwell and no one had come to help us, it felt awful. I had lost the plot, I felt I couldn’t protect my son and I started to panic.”
Another passenger, Fernando Suarez Meilla, came to their rescue because he had returned to his cabin to charge his camera when he noticed the ship tilting.
Mr Suarez Meilla was able to help the father and son by giving them a leg up to get out, but it meant he remained trapped below the deck.
He told them to leave and Mr Suarez Meilla ended up swimming out under the bottom of the yacht where he escaped through an open hatch and up to the sea’s surface.
The group of divers have now set up a Go Fund Me page to try to raise funds to recover all their lost possessions and start a legal case against the company, which they claim tried to force them to give false statements to the authorities.
They say the company responsible for the boat, Carlton Fleet, left them stranded without their passports and any help.
Other passengers on the yacht, Zoe and Dominic from Germany, wrote on the fundraising page: “By the representative of the company that organized the trip we were threatened, lied to and pressured to make false statements to the authorities - which we of course did not do.
“Instead of sending doctors they send lawyers, instead of providing help, they tried to spread fear among us and instead of taking responsibility for what had happened, they did not even show up to a meeting in which they initially told us to provide a compensation offer.”
They added: “Almost all of us lost everything they have brought to the trip but a pair of shorts and a t-shirt.
“As we are a very diverse group, some of us are able to deal with the financial loss, however others are in a really desperate situation and have even lost the equipment needed to go back to work. The company that organized the trip is not willing to pay a single cent.”
Speaking to The Telegraph, Carlton Fleet - the owner of Carlton Queen - said: “Needless to say, the safe return of all those on board bears testament to the crew members’ effective management of the situation, which spared the lives of all passengers.
“Fortunately, and notwithstanding any sensationalist allegations made by some disgruntled guests, only three divers sustained minor injuries that were treated in hospital at the company’s expense.
“Carlton Queen’s crew-members followed the safety protocols applicable to the circumstances, leading to the swift evacuation of the boat. The captain fired six flares in the air immediately upon the occurrence of the accident, which alerted a cargo ship to the need for help, prompting it to change its course and secure the area.”
It added in a statement to Divernet: “While we are deeply saddened about the accident, we are relieved by the safe return of all guests and crew-members to shore, the Egyptian authorities are currently investigating the incident, and our staff-members and crew are co-operating with them to identify the reasons for the boat’s capsizing.
“The Carlton Fleet team emphasises that Carlton Queen, which was recently renovated, had undergone all required maintenance works, passed all inspections, and was fit for operations as confirmed by technical reports.”
It claimed that an offer of compensation was rejected and said guests had made “threats” for bigger payments.
Carlton Fleet has been approached for further comment.