A prominent Pakistan businessman and his son were among five people aboard a submersible that has gone missing while exploring the wreckage of the Titanic in the North Atlantic, their family said Tuesday.
The 21-foot (6.5-meter) tourist craft, operated by OceanGate Expeditions, began its descent on Sunday but lost contact with the surface less than two hours later, according to authorities.
Shahzada Dawood — the vice-chairman of Karachi-headquartered conglomerate Engro — and his son Suleman were aboard the vessel, which is equipped with only 96 hours of oxygen supply, according to spokesmen.
Shahzada, 48, and university student Suleman, 19, are both British citizens and part of “one of the most revered business families in Pakistan”, the family-run Dawood Hercules holding group said.
A statement described Shahzada as a “loving father” to two children with a keen interest in “photography, especially wildlife photography, and exploring different natural habitats”.
Suleman enjoys Rubik’s Cube puzzles, volleyball and “is a big fan of science fiction literature and learning new things,” it added.
Earlier Tuesday, a family statement said “contact has been lost with their submersible craft and there is limited information available”.
“A rescue effort that is being jointly led by multiple government agencies and deep-sea companies is underway to reestablish contact with the submersible and bring them back safely,” it added.
“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.”
Engro has an array of investments in energy, agriculture, petrochemicals and telecommunications. At the end of 2022, the firm announced revenue of 350 billion rupees ($1.2 billion).
Shahzada’s father Hussain Dawood is regularly listed among Pakistan’s richest men by the domestic press.
Shahzada’s profile on Engro’s website said he also serves as a trustee on the board of The Dawood Foundation — a high-profile family education charity founded in 1960.
He was educated in the United States and Britain, the profile said.
Dawood Hercules also said he “works extensively” with the Prince’s Trust International — a youth charity set up by Britain’s King Charles III.
Coastguards are scanning the remote area of the North Atlantic where the Titanic rests about 400 miles (640 kilometres) off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, and about 13,000 feet (4,000 metres) underwater.
Another passenger aboard the missing craft has been identified as British businessman Hamish Harding.
© Agence France-Presse