Titanic passengers (l-r, top to bottom) British businessman Hamish Harding, Oceangate founder Stockton Rush, French Titanic expert Paul-Henri Narjolet, Pakistani-British president Shahjada Dawood and his son Suleiman (Dirty Dozen Productions / Joel Saget)
Five passengers who have been missing since Sunday in the North Atlantic died in a “catastrophic explosion” of a small science tour submarine near the wreck of the Titanic, the U.S. Coast Guard and cruise operator announced Thursday.
“We now believe that our boss, Stockton Rush, Shahjata Dawood and his son Suleiman, Hamish Harding and Paul-Henri Narjolet have died tragically,” US company OceanGate Expeditions said in a press release, after four days of research that captivated the US. and abroad.
For his part, US Coast Guard Rear Admiral John Mager announced that the “debris field” discovered by search robots near the mythical wreck, at a depth of about 4,000 meters, was “consistent with a catastrophic explosion” of the submarine. During a press conference in Boston on the northeast coast of the United States.
Rear Admiral John Mager of the United States Coast Guard speaks during a press conference in Boston, Massachusetts on June 22, 2023 (AFP / Joseph Prezioso).
He spoke of a “catastrophic loss” of pressure at the origin of the accident.
The outcome of the tragedy is unknown The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday evening that the U.S. Navy had discovered on Sunday, shortly after losing contact with the device, indicating a possible submarine explosion.
OceanGate’s boss, the American Stockton Rush, was on board with a wealthy British businessman, Hamish Harding (58), a former diver and naval soldier, Frenchman Paul-Henri Narcolet (77) — “Mr. Titanic” — and Pakistani President Shahjada. Dawood (48) and his son Suleman (19) — both are British.
– “True Explorers” –
“These men were true explorers who shared a spirit of adventure and a deep passion for exploring and protecting the planet’s oceans,” OceanGate said, “mourning the loss of life.”
A map showing the wreckage of the Titanic as several boats try to find the tourist submarine that went missing with five people on board on June 18 (AFP / Valentin RAKOVSKY)
The US Coast Guard, which is leading an international search team, announced on Twitter at midnight that a remote-controlled underwater robot had discovered a “debris field” in a “search area near the Titanic,” the famous 111-year-old shipwreck. Formerly on the coast of the United States and Canada.
US Rear Admiral Mauger expressed his “sincere condolences” to the families of the missing.
On the London side, which lost three nationals, Foreign Secretary James wisely took to Twitter to mourn the “sad news” and express his government’s “support” and “deepest condolences” to the families.
Islamabad has said it will focus on international efforts to search for the sinking ship and the five people on board, including a Pakistani father and son. The latter’s family expressed their “deep sadness” on Friday.
Satellite image released June 22, 2023 by Maxor Technologies of the vessel Polar Prince during research activities for the submarine Titan.
Surveillance using C-130 or P3 aircraft, ships equipped with underwater robots: The US and Canada are still Thursday morning in the North Atlantic, just beyond the two countries, where the Polar Prince, a small tourist submarine, departed. On Sunday.
The surface search area is 20,000 square kilometers.
Paris sent the ship Atalante from the French Research Institute for Ocean Exploration (Ifremer) equipped with a robot capable of diving to the wreck of the Titanic.
– Possible negligence –
The Titan, about 6.5 meters long, went down on Sunday and was due to resurface seven hours later, but lost contact less than two hours after liftoff. The machine had a theoretical autonomy of 96 hours of oxygen.
Photo released by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on February 15, 2023 The wreck of the Titanic was photographed during a dive in 1986 (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution / – )
However, there was still hope on Wednesday.
Canadian P-3 aircraft detected noises underwater, but their origin was unrelated to the submarine.
During this week’s research, information related to OceanGate has come to light regarding the possible technical negligence of the underwater tourism device.
A civil complaint in the United States in 2018 revealed that the company’s former executive, David Lockridge, was fired after raising serious doubts about the submarine’s safety.
According to this former Director of Marine Operations, a large porthole at the front of the device is designed to withstand pressure at a depth of 1,300m and not 4,000m.
Instead, for $250,000, travelers get to explore the remains of one of the biggest maritime disasters of the 20th century, which killed nearly 1,500 people.
Since the discovery of the wreck in 1985, it has been visited by scientists, treasure hunters and wealthy tourists, thus maintaining the myth.
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