Sister of businessman trapped on submarine says rescue 'is sole focus'

Sister of businessman who is trapped on Titanic submarine with his son says their rescue ‘is our family’s sole focus’ and ‘they would be as moved as we are by the support of the global community’

  • Shahzada Dawood, 48, and his son Suleman Dawood, 19, were on board the sub
  • Shahzada’s sister, Sabrina Dawood, said their family’s ‘sole focus’ is on rescue 

The sister of the British businessman who is trapped on the missing Titan submarine with his teenage son says the continuing rescue effort ‘is our family’s sole focus’ as they face an agonising wait for news of their loved ones.

Sabrina Dawood, whose brother Shahzada Dawood, 48, and nephew Suleman, 19, are among five passengers trapped inside the craft thousands of feet below sea level, said the pair would be ‘as moved as we are by the support of the global community’.

Their desperate family, including Shahzada’s wife Christine and daughter Alina, are waiting for any news of the two men – hoping in vain that they could somehow be found and brought up to the surface safely before the oxygen onboard runs out in less than 24 hours.

Sabrina, a Pakistani philanthropist and educational activist, told Sky News: ‘We are deeply grateful for the efforts of news agencies during this difficult time; your constant coverage of the missing Titan submersible is undoubtedly playing a large role in the world’s ability to access relevant updates on the matter. 

‘At this time, the Dawood family’s sole focus is the rescue of our beloved Shahzada and Suleman Dawood and we are unable to address any questions or comments at the moment.

Shahzada Dawood, 48, a board member of the Prince’s Trust charity, and his son Sulaiman Dawood, 19, (pictured together) are on board the missing submarine

This image shared by the US Coast Guard is the first from the search site, some 900 miles off the coast of the US. It shows Deep Energy – a pipe-laying ship that has joined the hunt 

‘We trust that the family will be granted privacy as we deal with this crisis. May Shahzada and Suleman return to us safe and sound. We are sure they would be as moved as we are by the support of the global community during this period of difficulty.’ 


READ MORE: How CAN Titan submarine be saved at 12,500ft? Rescue operation is unlike any ever performed, hardly any vessels can reach those depths and it’s impossible to transfer the crew to another sub

Rescue crews from the US, Canada and France are desperately trying to find the 22ft craft, which is understood to have last ‘pinged’ whilst directly above the Titanic wreck on Sunday, before the air onboard runs out in less than 24 hours. It is believed that the submarine has enough oxygen to last under water until 12pm on Thursday (7am EST).

A French ship carrying the only underwater vehicle capable of rescuing the Titan submersible – the Victor 6000, which can reach depths of 20,000ft – is today racing towards the site of where the craft went missing. 

The remotely operated vehicle (ROV) is tethered to a surface ship with a two-inch cable, allowing the pilot to control it from above using thrusters and relay images from sonar and camera systems.

The ROV would need another sophisticated US Navy system – a Flyaway Deep Ocean Salvage System (FADOSS) – to help it lift the heavy load.

The US Navy used the FADOSS to successfully salvage a crashed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter from 12,400ft below the South China Sea in early 2022, meaning it would be able to help pull the submersible above sea level if an ROV found the vessel.

The remote operated vehicle (ROV) may be able to fix a cable onto the sub before it is hauled to the surface by the Flyaway Deep Ocean Salvage System, a specialist winch which in 2021 managed to rescue a helicopter from 19,075ft deep.

And raising the hopes of the desperate families of those on board, the US Navy yesterday deployed a FADOSS to assist in the search and rescue efforts.

The FADOSS, along with remotely operated vehicles and an array of winches arrived at St John’s airport in Newfoundland, Canada, last night before departing on a ship, the Horizon Arctic, towards where they believe the Titan is located.

But the ships carrying the heavy machinery is not expected to arrive at the search area until Wednesday evening, which is perilously close to when the air onboard is set to run out.

And this plan of saving the crew, including British billionaire Hamish Harding, is completely dependent on rescue crews being able to find the exact spot where the small vessel is located. However, there are hopes the craft could be found after a Canadian aircraft heard banging sounds at 30 minute intervals on Tuesday.

Pictured: The tiny underwater craft leaving the port in St. John’s in Canada with the five crew members on board

Today, the US Coast Guard released a photo of the area where the sub is believed to be located showing the pipe-laying ship Deep Energy, which has joined the search. While it also has ROVs onboard they are not believed to be able to go deep enough.

Banging noises have been detected in the rescue area every 30 minutes by a Canadian plane with underwater sonar capabilities. This has led to fresh hope that the crew of the Titan vessel are still alive, and are deliberately making noises against the hull. 

Oceanographer David Gallo said that hitting the side of the sub to try and alert rescuers was something one of those trapped inside – diver Paul-Henri Nargeolet – ‘would certainly do’. 

Speaking to CNN, he said: ‘One of the wonders I have is: did [searchers] make any signal back, acoustically, to signal to the sub that we hear their signal? Sound carries very easily through the ocean … you would hear it in the sub for sure.’ 

The Dawood family are among the richest in Pakistan, but have strong links to the UK and Shahzada lives in a six-bedroom £3.3million house in Surbiton, Surrey, with wife Christine, who works as a life coach, son Suleman and daughter Alina.

Their neighbour Ellen Maby, 48, told MailOnline yesterday of her shock when she saw the news that Shahzada and Suleman were on the submarine.

She said: ‘They are such a lovely, lovely couple and when I saw it on the TV I was shocked. You couldn’t wish for lovelier neighbours.

‘The children are so sweet and polite and Christine is so kind, she was wonderful to me when my mother was ill. They’ve lived her about ten years and we see them every now and then but to be honest they are away a lot as they are a very transient family.

‘We are just hoping and praying that they come out of this alive. It’s so awful to think about.’

Shahzada is the Vice Chairman of Engro Corporation, which makes fertilisers, food and energy, as well as the Dawood Hercules Corporation, which makes chemicals. Shahzada’s father Hussain, 79, is chairman of both companies.

Shahzada is also a member of the Global Advisory Board for King Charles’ Charity, Prince’s Trust. He is also in the Founder’s Circle of the British Asian Trust.

The father-of-two is also on the board of trustees for the California-based SETI Institute that searches for extraterrestrial intelligence. 

Shahzada’s interests include wildlife photography, gardening and exploring natural habitats, while Suleman is a fan of science fiction literature, according to a statement from the Dawood Group. 

He was born in Pakistan but moved to the UK to study law at the University of Buckingham. He went on to study for Master’s in textile marketing in 2000 at Philadelphia University.

Shahzada had decided to take his son Sulaiman on the ‘Titan’ – the name of the Titanic submersible – for the five-day trip with three others when disaster struck and they lost contact with the surface after appearing to close in on their destination.

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