Eight crew members were sitting in the lifeboat and lowering it when it fell 65 too 100 feet into the ocean, Britain's The Guardian reported Sunday. The boat overturned when it hit the surface of the sea, Spanish news agency EFE reported.
The identities of those dead and injured were not reported, but the dead were reported to be three Indonesians, a Filipino and a Ghanaian. The injured included two Greeks and another Filipino, The Guardian reported.
The cruise ship was docked at La Palma during the drill and 2,000 passengers were on board at the time. None of the passengers were injured, EFE reported.
Andrew Linington, a spokesman for Nautilus International, a trade union for seafarers, said lifeboat drills are notoriously dangerous.
"We've had this happen so often and the industry has moved lamentably slowly to deal with the problem. There's been research which suggests that more people are dying in lifeboat drills than are being saved by lifeboats. It's that serious," he said.
"The death toll has been such that we advise our members: if you're doing a drill the drill is about raising and lowering the lifeboats. It shouldn't be about people actually getting into them. We advise them to do it without people in the lifeboats," he added.