A British woman feared for her life when a tourist boat she was on suddenly started sinking.
Lila Evangelista was among a group of 36 people, which included four children, on a boat off the Algarve in Portugal on Monday afternoon.
Somehow, water got into the boat and the vessel was sinking ‘within three minutes’.
Lila was also one of the multiple people whose lifejackets were not activating properly.
The Londoner said: ‘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.’
Her friend Troy French, also from London, said: ‘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.
‘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 people’s lifejackets were failing and weren’t activating when people were going into the water. It was a really bad experience and very scary.
‘I’m a confident swimmer but I was swallowing water and I was panicking for people whose lifejackets were weren’t working properly. I’m just so glad that everyone made it out so safety.’
The pair said it took around 10 to 15 minutes to get the group, which included five Brits and two Irish nationals, to safety.
The dramatic events took place just before 1.30pm, as the group was returning from the famous Benagil sea cave near Alfanzina Lighthouse, half a mile from the resort of Carvoeiro.
Portugal’s National Maritime Authority said: ‘Members of the Portimao Maritime Police of Portimao 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.
‘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.’
An investigation into how the boat sank is currently underway.
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