A boat operated by Jamie’s Whale Watching has sunk near Tofino, killing at least four passengers. It is anticipated that the death toll will rise.

The boat that sank is the 65” Leviathan II, which was able to accommodate 46 people. It was carrying 27 passengers when it sank. Passengers who book the whale tours are able to cruise the Clayoquot Sound, where they can watch the naturally occurring whales in warmth and comfort, with full naturalist commentary.

An employee of the company confirmed to Global News that the boat which sank belonged to the whale watching company.

In an interview with Global News, John Ford of the Tofino Whale Centre said that the waves were about three to four meters high but the weather conditions were not "unusual for the area."

Emergency Response deployed seven boats and thirty people to assist in the search for missing passengers. Local residents and other companies rallied to the rescue efforts. Early today it was thought that as many as 14 passengers were still unaccounted for. The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Victoria confirms that so far four are dead.

Tofino is situated at the Southern end of the Clayoquot Sound, and is well placed for tourism. Visitors to the area are can enjoy bear watching, whale watching, kayaking, fishing and surfing in the pristine wilderness area.

Boats the size of Leviathan II are required to carry life jackets but passengers are not required to wear them at all times. There are fears that some people in the water may not be wearing lifejackets.

The water around Tofino is considered mild, but offshore winds can cause cold deep water to replace the warmer surface water.

Divers are advised to wear wetsuits.

The Canadian Transport Safety Board (Canada) will investigate the incident. However, they are not in a position to assign fault or determine any kind of liability.

The Mayor of Tofino, Josie Osborne has posted a message of thanks on Twitter in appreciation of the volunteers who are assisting in the rescue efforts.

The District Emergency Operation Center was activated, but some passengers have had to be flown to outside hospital care as the Tofino hospital facility has only ten acute care beds. Other survivors are being treated in private homes.