The weekend accident occurred when visitors on a sightseeing tour plunged about 25 metres to the ground when a dockside gangway gave way.

A spokeswoman for shipyard owner, Alstom, said 15 people had died in the fall and another 32 were injured. Earlier company officials had put the toll at 16, but they later corrected that figure.

A spokeswoman for the shipyard said 32 people were injured, two of which have since left the hospital while one victim remains in serious condition. A 10-year-old boy was among those with light injuries, but there were no children reported among the fatalities.

A temporary mortuary was set
up by victims family's

Range of victims 

Alstom officials said the dead included workers who had helped build the liner, their friends and family, and employees of a cleaning company.

A temporary mortuary was set up in a shipyard cafeteria near the giant ship, which is in the final stages of construction at Alstom's Chantiers de l'Atlantique yard in Saint-Nazaire and completed sea trials off Brittany last week.

"My brother worked on the boat," said a 50-year-old man who identified himself only as Pierre. "He was crushed in the fall. It's worse than death by sickness."

President Jacques Chirac and Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin were both due to visit the site on Sunday.

Named after the opulent 1930s Cunarder, the cruise ship is being built for Carnival Corp's Cunard Line at a cost of about $800 million, the most expensive liner ever. It is as long as four football fields and stands as high as a 23-storey building.