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Cruise ship lifeboat accident kills 5

LA PALMA, Canary Islands -- A lifeboat being used on a safety drill aboard a cruise ship in Spain's Canary Islands fell about 65 feet yesterday when a cable snapped, trapping crew members beneath it and killing five of them, officials said.

None of the hundreds of passengers on the British-operated vessel were involved in the accident, in which three other crew members were injured, the Canary Islands port authority said.

Divers raced to the lifeboat, which had hit the water upside down. They recovered four bodies and tried without success to revive a fifth crewman, the authority said.

Thomson Cruises confirmed the accident and the casualties aboard its Thomson Majesty ship, on the island of La Palma.

The ship docked at the island's port of Santa Cruz in the morning, after arriving from the neighboring island of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. It was due to depart at 3 p.m. for Funchal on the mid-Atlantic island of Madeira with 1,498 passengers and 594 crew aboard, the authority said.

At 10:30 a.m. a drill consisting of lowering a lifeboat with crew members aboard began.

About an hour later, when the lifeboat was being hoisted back up, a cable holding it snapped and a hook holding the lifeboat on a second cable gave way, sending the lifeboat plunging upside down, the authority said in a statement.

Dead were three Indonesians, a Filipino and a Ghanaian, authorities said.

La Palma authorities canceled Carnival festivities scheduled on the island yesterday. The festivities would be held today, they said. -- AP

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