Suleman Dawood, the 19-year-old son of one of Pakistan’s richest men, only went on the deep-sea journey to the Titanic wreckage to please his dad over Father’s Day weekend, according to his aunt.
Suleman’s hesitance: Azmeh Dawood, the older sister of Pakistani billionaire Shahzada Dawood, 48, told NBC News that her nephew informed a relative that he was “terrified” and “wasn’t very up for it.” However, Suleman ended up going along the 21-foot sub, known as Titan, into the North Atlantic on Sunday morning for his father, who was very excited about the exploration of the sunken Titanic.
“I am thinking of Suleman, who is 19, in there, just perhaps gasping for breath… It’s been crippling, to be honest,” Azmeh said.
I feel disbelief. It’s an unreal situation. I feel like I’ve been caught in a really bad film, with a countdown, but you didn’t know what you’re counting down to. I personally have found it kind of difficult to breathe thinking of them. I never thought I would have an issue with drawing breath. It’s been unlike any experience I’ve ever had.
Shahzada’s Titanic obsession: Azmeh also recounted to NBC Shahzada’s “obsession” with the Titanic when he was younger. She recalled watching the 1958 British film “A Night to Remember” multiple times as a child with her brother, who she says she had grown apart from her in recent years.
According to Azmeh, Shahzada was very passionate about the Titanic and would go to museum exhibitions that feature artifacts recovered from the wreckage.
Shahzada’s family are asking people to “keep the departed souls and our family in your prayers.”
“The immense love and support we receive continues to help us endure this unimaginable loss,” Shahzada’s parents, Hussain and Kulsum, reportedly said.
What happened: The Titan was launched from a Canadian research vessel into the North Atlantic on Sunday morning. An hour and 45 minutes later, it lost contact with the ship. The search for the submarine has made international headlines with the public worried about the whereabouts of the five passengers, who were said to have had only 96 hours of oxygen.
On Thursday, OceanGate announced that the crew “have sadly been lost” after debris that belonged to the external body of the sub was found.
The passengers: Besides Suleman and Shahzada, the crew also included British businessman Hamish Harding, 58; French diver Paul-Henri Nargeolet, 77; and OceanGate’s own CEO, Stockton Rush, 61.
“Our hearts are with these five souls and every member of their families during this tragic time. We grieve the loss of life and joy they brought to everyone they knew,” the expedition company said in a statement.