On the night of 14/15 April 1912, the British passenger ship Titanic sank, killing some 1,500 passengers and crew. Skippered by Capt Edward Smith, the Titanic was 46,000 tons and carried 2,200 passengers and crew.

On its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, it was thought unsinkable because of its sixteen transverse bulkheads, which would restrict the amount of water it could take on board. As it approached Newfoundland, it was warned that icebergs were further south than normal, but the warning went unheeded, the ship maintaining its high speed. At 11.40pm it just managed to miss an iceberg, but the ship grazed its side.
Soon, some five bulkheads began to fill with water – more than it designed to allow. With no sense of urgency, a band played as passengers only half-filled the lifeboats; there weren’t enough lifeboats for everyone anyway. A distress call went out, picked up by the Carpathia, some sixty miles away. The Californian, just eight miles away, was not manning its radio, and the distress rockets fired were ignored, suspecting a party was occurring. Two hours after the collision, the call to abandon ship was made and the stern lifted vertically out of the water before sinking. By the time the Carpathia arrived, the ship was gone. It took on board just over 700 survivors.

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