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Back in the Day: Titanic sinks

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Back in the Day: Titanic sinks


April 15, 1912. RMS Titanic, then the largest passenger ship ever made, sank in the North Atlantic, taking with it 1,513 lives. The 46,000-tonne liner was making its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, when at 23:40 on April 14 it struck an iceberg two thirds of the way to its destination. At just after midnight, Captain Edward Smith gave the order for the lifeboats to be readied and boarded by “women and children first”. The Titanic was equipped with 20 lifeboats which, if all full, would have carried 1,178 people, or just over half of the 2,224 people on board. However, most lifeboats were nowhere near full, with many people believing the pre-launch hype that the ship was “unsinkable” and that they would be safer on board than on smaller, wooden lifeboats. In the end only 711 passengers and crew survived. Around 60 percent of 1st Class passengers survived whereas among 3rd Class and crew, the proportion that were saved was lower than 25 percent. (the above painting by Willy Stöwer is not a factually accurate representation of the sinking of Titanic)

Also on April 15: The Hillsborough football stadium disaster in Sheffield, England (1989); closure of most of Europe’s airspace due to ash from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano (2010)

Born on April 15: Leonardo da Vinci (1452), Kim Il-sung (1912), Raymond Poulidor (1936), Claudia Cardinale (1939), Samantha Fox (1966)

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