Consultant sends counsellors to Gulf state after 10 of its staff and family members die in pleasure trip tragedy.

Scene of the disaster: the capsized dhow
Scene of the disaster: the capsized dhow

Consultant Atkins this week spoke of its "deep sorrow" at the loss of 10 of its UK staff and family members who died in the Bahrain boat disaster.

Some 58 people, including at least 15 Britons, were drowned last week when an Arab dhow, being used as a pleasure boat, capsized in calm water less than a mile off the coast of Manama, the capital of the Gulf state.

The vessel had been chartered by South African contractor Nass, Murray and Roberts to celebrate the topping out of the city's World Trade Centre, a $150m (£85m), 50-storey twin office tower that Atkins designed.

The cause of the accident has not yet been established but witnesses have claimed that the boat was overcrowded and unstable before it set off. Sixteen people are reported to have refused to board it because it was rocking violently from side to side.

Alun Griffiths, human resources director of Atkins, said that the firm was unlikely to take legal action but noted that the victims' families might take civil action later.

He said: "People at Atkins were shocked and distressed when they heard the news. But they pulled together, and everyone's first priority now is to support the people most affected."

The first priority is to support the people most affected

Alun Griffiths, HR director at Atkins

Griffiths said after the disaster the firm had sent two counsellors from its employee assistance programme, who joined up with the Red Cross and International SOS to provide support.

Atkins chief executive Keith Clarke flew out to Bahrain, in the Persian Gulf, on Saturday morning. Tim Askew, Atkins' regional managing director for the Middle East, was in the UK when the tragedy happened but returned the following day.

Clarke said: "It has been a humbling experience to receive so many heartfelt messages of support and understanding from across the industry and this has been a great comfort to us all."

Eight of the 10 victims from Atkins have been named. They are: resident engineer Andrew Debrunner; senior site electrical engineer Basanth Kumar; construction supervisor Carl Ottewell; assistant project manager Jason Brett, 33; Brett's wife, Lucinda Lamb, 30, who worked for agent DTZ; resident architect Sameer Thorat; assistant resident engineer Scott Belch, 33; and Belch's German wife, Sandy Belch.

The accident claimed the lives of six British members of the staff of Nass, Murray and Roberts. They were: Will Nolan, 50, the project's director; David Evans, 56, a senior executive; Stephen Grady, 42, a contract painter and decorator; Chris Braysher, 47, a construction manager; Jimmy Allen, 59; and Lawrence Sulman, 39. Philip Moody, 50, and Christopher Langan, 53, also died.

victims Jason Brett and his wife, Lucinda Lamb
victims Jason Brett and his wife, Lucinda Lamb