Mast Snaps On Whale-Watching Boat In Hawaii, Sinking The Vessel; 1 Dead

Monday, March 26th 2007, 5:47 pm
By: News On 6

HONOLULU (AP) -- The mast broke on a whale-watching catamaran, killing a man and prompting the rescue of 50 people as the boat sank, authorities said.

A 48-year-old man died in the incident Sunday, authorities said. Two people were taken to a hospital in stable condition, and three people were treated for hypothermia.

It was not immediately clear how the victim died. Authorities were investigating the incident.

The Kiele V catamaran was nearly two miles off Maui when the mast broke, the Coast Guard said. Winds were about 20 mph.

Two other whale-watching boats responded to a radio call, authorities said. Other boats, the Coast Guard and firefighters helped take passengers and crew members to shore as the boat foundered.

The Kiele V captain and crew tried to cut away the rigging lines to free the sail, said Jason Moore, a magazine photographer aboard one of the other boats.

"The back side was being pulled down, and the captain only had a hacksaw to cut the rigging," Moore said.

The Coast Guard responded with a helicopter and rescue boats,authorities said.

It was the second death aboard a Hawaii tour catamaran in less than four months. In December, a 13-year-old California boy was killed when a mast snapped in brisk winds, pinning him.