British and Irish tourists in dramatic escape as boat capsizes on Portugal’s Algarve

British and Irish tourists in dramatic escape as boat capsizes on Portugal's Algarve

Image of the Farol de Alfanzina in Lagoa. Credit: Google maps - Gennady Stolyarov

A boat capsized while transporting British tourists from the famous Benagil caves on Portugal’s Algarve.

British and Irish tourists travelling on a sightseeing boat on Portugal’s Algarve had a lucky escape this afternoon, Monday, February 20, when their vessel capsized in the sea. A total of 36 people were returning from a trip to visit the famous sea caves in Benagil when the incident occurred.

The boat was passing near the Alfanzina Lighthouse located close to the Lagoa municipality of Carvoeiro when the accident happened shortly before 1:30pm, according to The Sun.

Four children were said to have been among the passengers as the craft started taking on water before turning upright in the sea. Sources informed the news outlet that there were at least five British and two Irish nationals on board at the time.

“I thought I was going to die. The water wasn’t really high to start with and I was calm but then it started rising very quickly and I began to panic. The coastguards came a little bit late when everyone was already in the big boat that picked up most of those that ended up in the water”, Lila Evangelista from London told the newspaper.

“I’m not exactly sure what happened. I was on the phone to some of my colleagues back in England and then I looked behind me and there was lots of water coming into the boat”, added her friend Troy French.

She continued: “The crew started to panic and they started lifting some emergency things up and the water started going into the engine and it was smoking. They got everyone to move to the front of the boat and then the back of the boat was sinking, sinking, sinking to the point where everyone just started jumping into the water”.

“A lot of peoples’ lifejackets were failing and weren’t activating when people were going into the water. It was a really bad experience and very scary”, Troy explained.

She added: “It was about three minutes between the time water started coming into the boat and we started sinking and another five to ten minutes before boats started arriving and another five to ten minutes before people started actually getting rescued”.

“An alert was received at 1:25 pm local time today, via the Lisbon Maritime Search and Rescue Coordination Centre, saying that a tourist vessel with about 40 people on board, was taking on water and was at risk of sinking”, confirmed a spokesman for Portugal’s National Maritime Authority.

They explained: “Members of the Portimao Maritime Police and Ferragudo Lifeguard Station were immediately sent to the site. Several other tourist vessels also headed to the area. The people who were on the boat were all in the water when they arrived with their life jackets on”.

“They were rescued with the support of a tourist boat that was nearby and the Ferragudo Lifeguard Station boat. A total of 36 people, including four children, who had been on board were then taken to Portimao Marina, where paramedics, Portimao volunteer firefighters, Lagoa volunteer firefighters, Civil Protection officers and the Portuguese Red Cross were waiting”, they continued.

A statement issued later read: “Some were showing signs of hypothermia and they were evaluated then assisted by the medical teams at the scene, although they didn’t require special medical assistance. The damaged vessel was later removed by a company hired by the shipowner and towed to a shipyard in Portimao”.


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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at