All five onboard the missing Titan sub are believed to have died, the company which operates the submersible said in a statement.
“We now believe that our CEO Stockton Rush, Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood, Hamish Harding, and Paul-Henri Nargeolet, have sadly been lost,” a statement said.
“These men were true explorers who shared a distinct spirit of adventure, and a deep passion for exploring and protecting the world’s oceans.
“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 news conference comes hours after it was confirmed that a “debris field” had been found at the search site.
Little information was provided at the time, but the discovery was made by a remotely operated vehicle on the seafloor. Experts have been evaluating the evidence since.
A rescue expert who knows two of the five men onboard later told Sky News that Titan’s landing frame and rear cover had been identified.
David Mearns went on to warn that US officials wouldn’t have used the phrase “debris field” if there was no chance of finding the men alive.
Five days have passed since Titan’s passengers embarked on a two-hour dive to see the wreck of the Titanic – and teams from multiple countries have scoured thousands of square miles looking for the minivan-sized vessel.
On Wednesday, the US Coast Guard had forecast that the vessel’s air supply would run out by 12.08pm UK time today.
Finding the missing submersible in a totally dark environment was likened to discovering a needle in a haystack – and according to experts, even specialist vehicles on the seafloor can only see for a matter of metres.