TAKEN FROM BELFAST NEWSLETTER, 17 APRIL 1912
Yesterday's telegrams show that the fate of the Titanic is beyond doubt. The giant liner now lies in the bed of the North Atlantic at a depth probably of two miles and her loss constitutes the most appalling shipping disaster in the history of the world.
The vessel carried in all 2,358 persons. The total survivors are officially declared at New York to be 868, so that it would appear that the number who have perished reaches the awful figure of 1,490.
The terrible calamity has caused the greatest consternation throughout the world, and great sympathy is expressed with the bereaved. A large number of the crew resided in Southampton and district, but at least twenty belong to Belfast and the North of Ireland.
Washington messages announce that President Taft yesterday afternoon issued directions for several revenue cutters and a fast cruiser to meet the Carpathia, and render all assistance possible.
Messages of sympathy with the bereaved were received by the White Star Line last night from the King and Queen and Queen Alexandria.
There is now, unfortunately, no doubt whatever that the White Star liner Titanic, the largest ship in the world, sank after collision with an iceberg in latitude 41 degrees 46 min. N., longitude 50 degrees 14 min W., while on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. She carried 1, 455 passengers and 903 of a crew, a total of 2, 358, and there is every reasons to fear that the death toll reaches the awful number of 1, 400. The terrible calamity has created consternation not only in Great Britain and in the United States, but also on the Continent, and on all hands great sympathy is expressed for the bereaved. In view of the first statements that no lives had been lost, and that the passengers had been transferred to other steamers, a feeling of easiness prevailed; but unhappily that was dispelled as the day advanced.
In the early morning a message from St. John's, Newfoundland, gave rise to the hope that the Allan liner Virginian had some of the survivors on board, and another straw eagerly clutched at was a statement made by the operator at Sable Island, who on the night of the 15th inst., when asked as to the possibility of delivering messages to the Titanic's passengers, replied that it would be difficult to do so as the passengers were believed to be dispersed among several vessels. Later, however, the sad intelligence arrived from Montreal, through Reuter, that the Allan Line had received a communication to the effect that they were in receipt of a marconigram, via Cape Race, from Captain Gambell, of the Virginian, stating he had arrived on the scene of the disaster too late to be of service.
THE TOTAL DEATH ROLL
On board the Titanic there were in all 2, 358 passengers and crew. The numbers when she left Queenstown, including those from Cherbourg were:
The owners announce definitely that there are 868 survivors. The total death toll from the disaster is thus 1, 490.
But how far transfer to boats and rafts had progresses is not known, nor can anything be gathered from the information available to show whether it was lack of time or some other natural or material difficulty in the way of meeting such an emergency that sent two-thirds of the Titanic's human freight to the fathomless depths. But that order prevailed in conditions such as might well have been attended by chaos is eloquently shown by the proportion of women to men among the survivors, only 79 men so far having been reported as aboard the Carpathia out of a total of 248 persons whose names are as yet to hand. `These figures tell their own story of heroism and self-sacrifice'.
The Carpathia is now making for New York with 868 survivors, who alone can tell the tale of the midnight plunge into the angry whirlpool of ice, wreckage and drowning men with which the great ship went to her burial. They alone can relate the bitter experience of a wintry night spent in open boats on the lonely sea, of waiting for the morning, and of hope of rescue mingled with despair and anguish at the thought of loved ones from whose embraces they had been suddenly torn. Wireless messages have told how in the darkness their crews had to guide the boats with the greatest caution to prevent their being jammed in ice or overturned by swirling floes, so that the heavily laden craft became widely separated from each other.
There followed hours of heart-breaking anguish before daylight came, and the first faint tones of the searching Carpathia's siren were heard through the dense fog. Even then their anxiety was not at an end, for the Carpathia proceeded cautiously, sounding her fog whistle almost continuously until one after another she picked up the scattered lifeboats. No other ship was in the neighbourhood of the disaster, although before the Titanic disappeared wireless messages were pouring in telling of the approach of the Olympic, the Baltic, the Parisian and the Virginia, but they were still far away, and the Carpathia picked up all the survivors to the be found long before they reached the scene.
Nothing is likely to be heard from direct from the Carpathia until late tonight or early tomorrow when she will be nearing Sable Island, as her wireless apparatus has a radius of only 150 miles. Meanwhile a message from Halifax announces that the Parisian is approaching that port and will arrive there in the morning.
White Star agents learned to-day from the Oceanic that all the Titanic's boats had been accounted for. This, together with the abandonment of the long-cherished idea that the Virginian or Parisian might have picked up some additional survivors, has dispelled most hopes that the number of those saved may be increased beyond the pitiful 868. Those friends and relatives still without tidings of those for whose safety they are so anxious are basing their last hopes on the publication of the names of 483 survivors still to be sent by wireless telegraph from the Carpathia. Many men of great prominence in the social, financial and professional world are still missing. There is no word, for instance, of Colonel John Jacob Astor, whose youthful wife is among the saved, or of Mrs Isidor Straus, Major Butt, Mr Benjamin Guggenheim, Mr Francis D. Millet, or of Mr Wm. T. Stead, tidings of whom are so anxiously awaited not in England alone.
Naval men and experienced navigators who have discussed the disaster in the light of all the news available agree that the present information all appears to support the theory that the Titanic struck the iceberg a glancing blow, not running into it "head on". Mr Uhler, Inspector General of the Federal Steamboat Inspection Service, expressed the opinion that the Titanic struck the berg with such violence that the impact, "buckled her to pieces".
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