One of Pakistan's richest men and his teenage son are among the five people missing in the submarine that embarked on a journey to explore the wreckage of the Titanic. Shahzada Dawood, aged 48, who serves as a board member of the Prince's Trust charity in the UK, and his son Sulaiman Dawood, 19, were passengers aboard the small submarine.
Tragically, all communication with the Titanic-bound submersible was lost at a depth of 12,500 feet underwater. The search and rescue efforts are currently underway to locate and help the missing people. The purpose of their expedition was to offer tourists the opportunity to witness the renowned wreckage of the Titanic.
Father and Son Missing
However, tragedy struck when communication with the submarine was lost in the pitch-black depths of the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 370 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.
Their anxious family, which includes Shahzada's spouse Christina and daughter Alina, are enduring an agonizing wait for any news of the father-son duo. Unfortunately, they cling to a futile hope that by some miracle, the pair could be located in the depths of the ocean, approximately 12,500 feet below the surface, before the vessel runs out of oxygen.
"We are very grateful for the concern being shown by our colleagues and friends and would like to request everyone to pray for their safety," the Dawood family said in a statement.
The Dawood family is counted among the wealthiest in Pakistan, but they also have strong links to the United Kingdom. Shahzada lives in a lavish mansion in Surrey, England, with his wife Christine, who works as a life coach, and their son Sulaiman and daughter Alina.
Shahzada is the Vice Chairman of Engro Corporation, a company involved in the production of fertilizers, food, and energy. He is also associated with Dawood Hercules Corporation, a chemical manufacturing company.
Although Shahzada was born in Pakistan, he later moved to the UK, where he studied law at the University of Buckingham.
The submersible, which belongs to OceanGate Expeditions, was on a deep-sea expedition with a crew of five people, including company CEO Stockton Rush, French explorer PH Nargeolet, and Hamish Harding.
Their mission involved exploring the wreckage of the Titanic, located approximately 12,500 feet below the surface, as part of a high-priced tour.
The crew set off at around 4 am on Sunday but lost contact with their main vessel, MV Polar Prince, after an hour and 45 minutes into the planned two-hour descent. They are equipped with enough oxygen to sustain them until 7 am EST on Thursday.
Desperate Search Continues
However, as the race against time intensified, rescuers acknowledged the possibility that the submersible could have become trapped amidst the wreckage of the Titanic. Despite being located 370 miles from Newfoundland, Canada, the Titanic lies within US waters.
Experts in submarine operations also expressed concerns that the submersible may be stuck at a depth beyond the reach of a manned rescue sub, like the US Navy's sub, which is limited to 2,000 feet.
It is now being speculated that the only viable approach to reach the submersible could involve employing a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) with a maximum depth capability of 20,000 feet, the Daily Mail reported.
The submersible, named 'Titan,' lost communication with the surface for a minimum of seven hours and appeared to be nearing its intended destination.
Titan, the submersible in question, is known to maintain communication by transmitting a signal, or "ping," to the Polar Prince every 15 minutes. The most recent ping was received around 10 am EST while the submersible was positioned above the Titanic wreckage.
At that critical moment, a state of chaos unfolded, prompting a distress call to be sent to the Boston branch of the US Coast Guard. They are currently spearheading an operation aimed at conducting what could potentially be the most profound underwater rescue mission in history.
The submersible's oxygen supply, which was initially estimated to last for 96 hours, has been steadily depleting since around 6 a.m. on Sunday, as indicated by Concannon. Concannon, who had planned to be part of the dive but had to cancel due to other client commitments, provided this information.
The search and rescue operation is being conducted by the Coast Guard, who are leading the efforts from both aerial and maritime perspectives. Canadian authorities are also lending their support to the mission.
"It is a remote area and it is a challenge to conduct a search in that remote area but we are deploying all available assets to make sure that we can locate the craft and rescue the people onboard," Rear Adm. John Mauger, a commander for the U.S. Coast Guard, said at a press conference.
David Concannon, an advisor to OceanGate who had intended to be part of the expedition, revealed that efforts are underway to promptly bring a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) capable of reaching depths of 20,000 feet to the site.
Additionally, various government agencies and deep-sea companies, C-130 and P-8 aircraft from the United States and Canada have been deployed to aid in the search. The search area is located in a remote section of the ocean, approximately 900 miles east of Cape Cod and 370 miles southeast of the southernmost point of Newfoundland.