It is too early to "speculate" about what happened on the Titan submarine and people should "mourn the loss of the crewmembers", the co-founder of the vessel's tourist company has told GB News.
Guillermo Sohnlein joined Dan Wootton on GB News tonight just hours after five passengers onboard the vanished submarine were pronounced dead.
Sohnlein co-founded OceanGate with Stockton Rush in 2009.
Rush was among the five passengers who died onboard the Titan.
An image of a Titan submarine used for such expeditionsOcean Gate
Speaking from Barcelona, Sohnlein said: “I think it’s premature for anybody to speculate on what happened.
“It’s going to take days, weeks, months to collect data and analyse the data and try to figure out what happened.
“Right now is more a time to mourn the loss of the crewmembers and preserve their legacies.”
The former OceanGate CEO described his fellow co-founder as "one of the most intelligent people" he has ever met".
He added: “He was very risk averse and keenly aware of the dangers of operating in the deep ocean.
“He was very committed to safety and believed everyone of the innovations and anything he designed was designed to expand the capabilities of humanity and learning about the oceans but also the capability of doing it as safely as possible.”
However, Sohnlein also suggested those criticising the tourist company's venture to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean needed to wait for more information.
The Titanic tourist sub vanished in the Atlantic Ocean on Sunday
He told Wootton: “I think a lot of the folks that are commenting on this do have the expertise to form opinions like this but like me they don’t have all of the data and I think it’s really a matter of waiting until we have the data and have a chance to analyse it to figure out what happened, take some lessons learned and move forward them there.”
British billionaire Hamish Harding, Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood, his son Suleman Dawood, French submersible pilot Paul-Henri Nargeolet and OceanGate chief executive Stockton Rush were onboard the vessel.
In a statement, OceanGate said: "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."
The company added: "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."