Friday, July 19, 2024

British billionaire in missing tourist sub supplied plane to transport cheetahs from Namibia to India

The company of British billionaire Hamish Harding, who is among the five people on board a tourist submarine that went missing on June 18 during a dive to the Titanic’s wreckage in the Atlantic, had supplied a special aircraft to transport eight wild cheetahs from Namibia to India last year.

The 58-year-old UAE-based businessman, pilot, explorer and space tourist, is the founder of Action Group and chairman of Action Aviation, an international aircraft brokerage company with headquarters in Dubai.

In September 2022, Action Aviation, supplied the customised Boeing 747-400 aircraft to transport the cheetahs from Namibia to India to launch the reintroduction of the big cat in the country.

Harding, who holds three Guinness World Records, was on the flight to India.

For Harding, the trip to Titanic’s wreckage was the latest in a string of adventures.

He has visited the South Pole multiple times, flew into space in 2022 on board Blue Origin’s fifth human-crewed flight, and set three world records — including the longest time spent at full ocean depth during a dive to the deepest part of the Mariana Trench.

Over the weekend, Harding said on social media that a ship had set off from the city of St John’s, in Newfoundland, Canada, for the destination of the Titanic wreck, reports the BBC.

From there, he and the crew were planning to start diving operations in the submersible down to the wreck at around 4 a.m. on Sunday morning.

He wrote on Facebook that he was “proud to finally announce” that he would be aboard the mission to the wreck of the Titanic.

Due to the “worst winter in Newfoundland in 40 years,” he said “this mission is likely to be the first and only manned mission to the Titanic in 2023”.

“A weather window has just opened up and we are going to attempt a dive tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, Pakistani billionaire businessman Shahzada Dawood and his 19-year-old son, Suleman is also on board the missing submarine.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the Dawood family said: “Our son Shahzada Dawood and his son, Suleman, had embarked on a journey to visit the remnants of the Titanic in the Atlantic Ocean.

“As of now, contact has been lost with their submersible craft and there is limited information available.”

Dawood, from one of Pakistan’s richest families, is a trustee of the Seti Institute, a research organisation in California, according to its website.

It says he lives in the UK with his wife, Christine, and his children Suleman and Alina, and is in the Founder’s Circle of the British Asian Trust.

According to the US Coast Guard, the vessel has only about 70 hours of oxygen left, with a massive search and rescue operation currently underway.

Addressing the media on Monday, Rear Adm John Mauger of the US Coast Guard said: “We anticipate there is somewhere between 70 and the full 96 hours available at this point,” reports the BBC.

He also said that two aircraft, a submarine and sonar buoys were involved in the search for the vessel but noted the area in which the search is taking place was “remote”, making operations difficult.

Rear Adm Mauger said the rescue teams were “taking this personally” and were doing everything they could to bring those on board “home safe”.

The missing vessel is believed to be tour firm OceanGate’s Titan submersible, a truck-sized sub that holds five people and usually dives with a four-day emergency supply of oxygen.

Tickets cost $250,000 for an eight-day trip including dives to the wreck at a depth of 3,800m.

According to the US Coast Guard, contact with the submarine was lost about an hour and 45 minutes into its dive on June 18.

In a statement on Monday, OceanGate said its “entire focus (was) on the crewmembers in the submersible and their families”, the BBC reported.

The Titanic’s wreck lies some 700 km south of St John’s, Newfoundland, though the rescue mission is being run from Boston, Massachusetts.

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