The university student killed in the Titan submarine tragedy was “very scared” about the trip, his aunt revealed.
Suleman Dawood, 19, and his father, Pakistani businessman Shahzada, were two of five people killed instantly when the OceanGate submersible suffered a “catastrophic implosion” 1,600 feet from the wreck of the Titanic, according to the US Coast Guard .
The others who lost their lives were British billionaire Hamish Harding, OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush and French Navy veteran Paul-Henri Nargeolet.
A full-scale search for those on board has been launched following the Titan’s disappearance on Sunday.
Azmeh Dawood, the older sister of Mr. Dawood, vice chairman of Engro Corporation, said her nephew “wasn’t very ready for it,” but added he felt compelled to please his father, who is passionate about the Titanic, which sank April 14, 1912.
She told it from her home in Amsterdam NBC News: “I think of the 19-year-old Suleman in there, who might just be gasping for air… To be honest, it was crippling.”
Azmeh added: “I am in disbelief. It’s an unreal situation.”
She continued, “I feel like I’m trapped in a really bad movie, with a countdown but you didn’t know what point you were counting to.”
Admitting that she “personally found it hard to breathe just thinking about her,” Azmeh said, “It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.”
She added that even if someone had given her $1 million, she would never have gotten on the submersible.
Her comments came after US Coast Guard spokesman Rear Admiral John Mauger said the debris found was “consistent with the catastrophic loss of the hyperbaric chamber.”
He added: “Following this finding, we notified the families immediately.
“On behalf of the United States Coast Guard and the entire combined command, I offer my deepest condolences to the families. I can only imagine what that was like for her.”
“And I hope this discovery brings some comfort at this difficult time.”
According to experts, the people on board would have been killed instantly by the implosion.
Mr Dawood and his family, who lived in Surrey, were heirs to the Dawood business dynasty and were among the wealthiest people in Pakistan.
Suleman was a student at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.
Before the teenager’s death, Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, wrote: “It is with a heavy heart that I write to share the news that one of our students, Suleman Dawood, is a passenger on board the missing submersible in the North Atlantic.”
“We are deeply concerned for Suleman, his father and the others involved in this incident. I know that you will join me in sending our thoughts and prayers to their families and loved ones.”
Suleman was described as a “huge fan of science fiction and learning new things” in a family statement released earlier this week.
The family, including his mother Christine and sister Alina, had spent a month in Canada prior to the dive.
A statement from the Dawood family released on Twitter tonight said: “It is with profound sadness that we announce the deaths of Shahzada and Suleman Dawood.
“Our beloved sons were aboard OceanGate’s Titan submersible that perished underwater.
“Please continue to keep the souls of the dead and our family in your prayers at this difficult time of grief.
“We are very grateful to everyone involved in the rescue operations. Your tireless commitment was a source of strength for us during this time.
“We also owe a debt of gratitude to our friends, family, colleagues and well-wishers from around the world who have stood by us in our hour of need.
“The immense love and support we are receiving continues to help us bear this unimaginable loss.
“We extend our heartfelt condolences to the families of the other passengers on the Titan submersible.
“At this time we are unable to take calls and are asking that support, condolences and prayers be sent instead. Details of their final rites on this world will be announced soon.”
Azmeh, who was diagnosed with primary progressive multiple sclerosis in 2014 and was “reduced to a wheelchair,” said she’s lost touch with her brother in recent years.
She moved to Amsterdam from England to gain easier access to medicinal cannabis, something her family members, including her brother, disapproved of.
However, upon hearing the tragic news, she was reminded of her love for her brother.
She said, “‘He was my little brother, I held him up when he was born.”
Azmeh described Suleman as “thoroughly kindhearted,” adding that she always felt connected to him.