OceanGate now says that all five passengers “have been lost,” according to a statement.
“These men were true explorers who shared distinct spirit of adventure, and a deep passion for exploring protecting our world’s oceans,” the statement reads. “Our hearts are with these five souls and every member of their families during this tragic time.”
The U.S. Coast Guard on Thursday confirmed a “debris field” had been found in the search area for the missing Titan submersible, later saying that five major pieces of debris — including the nose and tail cones and part of the pressure chamber — were found about 1,600 feet away from the bow of the Titanic on the seafloor.
Officials added that the Titan likely suffered a “catastrophic implosion” based on preliminary data from the debris field, but they will be conducting more research before coming to a solid conclusion.
A dive expert connected to the search and rescue efforts earlier told the BBC that the debris included a “landing frame and a rear cover from the submersible.”
The debacle began Sunday after OceanGate, the company that built the Titan submersible, confirmed that the vehicle carrying five passengers to explore the Titanic wreckage had gone missing. According to OceanGate, the submersible had about 90 hours of oxygen for the passengers, meaning the tanks have likely run out by now.
Both the U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards have provided aircraft, ships, and underwater remote-controlled vessels to explore the search area, about twice the size of Connecticut in surface area and up to 2.4 miles deep.
Officials confirmed Wednesday that rescuers detected “banging” noises via sonar in the search area, but an underwater search where the noise was heard did not recover any leads.
The five occupants of the vessel are U.K. billionaire and aviator Hamish Harding, British-Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son, Suleman, French diver and explorer Paul-Henry Nargeolet, and OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush.
OceanGate has been hit with criticism regarding the experimental design of the Titan vessel, with new details revealing both industry leaders and former employees had safety concerns. But one technician who previously helped OceanGate told Semafor Wednesday that engineering submersibles that can withstand extreme depths is complex, and that OceanGate had re-designed Titan to address some of the biggest worries.