100 years after Titanic disaster

2012-03-22 17:30
London - As the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic nears next month the public's interest in the tragedy has not diminished.

On April 10 1912, the Titanic set sail on its maiden voyage, travelling from Southampton, England, to New York.

It was nicknamed the "Millionaire's Special".

The ship was fittingly captained by Edward J Smith, who was known as the "Millionaire's Captain" because of his popularity with wealthy passengers.

Onboard were a number of prominent people, including American businessman Benjamin Guggenheim, British journalist William Thomas Stead, and Macy's department store co-owner Isidor Straus and his wife, Ida.

Here is a look at the disaster and its aftermath:

The disaster:

- The liner struck an iceberg late on April 14 and sank in the early hours of April 15 1912. The ship's starboard side scraped along the iceberg. At least five of its supposedly watertight compartments toward the bow were ruptured.

- After assessing the damage, as the ship's forward compartments filled with water, its bow would drop deeper into the ocean, causing water from the ruptured compartments to spill over into each succeeding compartment, thereby sealing the ship's fate.

- Of the 2 223 passengers and crew aboard the ship, dubbed "unsinkable" before departure, 1 517 died. Third class suffered the greatest loss - of approximately 710 on board, only 174 survived. Seventy-six percent of the crew died.

100 years on:

- US and British investigations proposed various safety recommendations just after the sinking, and in 1913 the first International Conference for Safety of Life at Sea was called in London. The conference drew up rules requiring that every ship have lifeboat space for each person embarked; that lifeboat drills be held for each voyage.

- In September 1985, the first underwater images of the Titanic were recorded as its giant boilers were discovered. Later video showed the ship lying upright in two pieces.

- In addition to being the subject of numerous books, the ship inspired various movies, notably A Night to Remember (1958) and James Cameron's blockbuster Titanic (1997).

- Millvina Dean, the last survivor of the 1912 sinking died in June 2009. She was 97. Dean was just nine weeks old when her family sold a pub they owned in London to travel on the maiden voyage of the passenger liner and begin a new life in Wichita, Kansas, in the United States, where her father Bertram hoped to open a tobacconist shop.

- Researchers assembled in March 2012 a field map of the wreck. The mapping team snapped 130 000 photos throughout 2010 using two underwater robots and using solar imaging to create the most in-depth picture yet of the 4.8km by 8km swath of wreckage.

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