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Why did so many people die

This discussion on "Why did so many people die" is in the Final Voyage Sinking and the Wreck section; Why did so many people die on Lusitania? 1) The water was relatively warm, so ...

      
   
  1. #1
    Daniel Odysseus
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    Why did so many people die on Lusitania?
    1) The water was relatively warm, so people couldn't freeze like on Titanic and Empress of Ireland.
    2) Most people were on deck already.
    3) The ship's decks were known, since most of the trip was done, so people below could've evacuated quickly, unlike the Empress, where the ship was brand new to these people.
    4) The torpedo hit in boiler rooms, and cargo holds; it didn't initially destroy cabins or evacuation routes.
    5) Lusitania was close to shore; some people could probably swim to the beach (I think)...
    6) The German U-Boat had run out of torpedoes (not counting the two it had to keep for danger on its return trip) so the people were in no danger of getting attacked while in the water.
    7) There were other ship in the area, so at worse case, the people would be plucked out of the water relatively fast, one would think.

    Are these reasons correct? Is there some obvious reason that I'm forgetting of why the casualty levels were so high?

    Thanks!
    -D.O.

  2. #2
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    I'll try to explain a few of these:

    1. The water was still cold enough to incapacitate someone within minutes
    2. Do you mean the boat deck?
    3. This didn't make much of a difference, since the ship sank in 15-19 minutes.
    4. Not really relevant.
    5. You try swimming 13 miles!
    6. True.
    7. Not very many ships in the area. In fact, most rescue ships came from Queenstown, IIRC.

    I hope these help.


    Adam

  3. #3
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    4) But the torpedo caused coal dust to ignite and explode thus making her sink faster.

  4. #4
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    Daniel, here's my input:

    1)The water of the Southern Irish coast is never "relatively warm" hypothermia can, and does, set in rapidly.

    2)Why would most people be on deck? Many were still finishing lunch or below decks packing for the arrival in Liverpool.

    3)As Adam mentions, the ship foundered in a very short time - there was little time for rousing passengers.

    4)Greg's theory is still supposition concerning the coal dust.

    5) Swim to shore? I don't think so!!

    6) How were the survivors to know that the U Boat had run out of torpedoes? Many survivor acounts confirm that they were afraid that the U Boat would surface and shell them.

    7) Virtually all of the rescue ships came out of Queenstown & Kinsale as Adam mentions.

    In short, I consider the high loss of life was because:

    1) The ship foundered so quickly
    2) Very few lifeboats actually got away undamaged
    3) Many deaths were caused by launching the lifeboats whilst the ship still was moving
    4) Many people simply didn't know how to fit their lifejackets.
    5) The high proportion of women and children on the ship with nobody to look after them.

    Geoff

  5. #5
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    G'Day Greg, the coal dust explosion theory looks mighty appealing on the surface, but there are a lot of problems with it. For one thing, you need to have the right perportion of powdered coal dust in the atmosphere along with an ignition source.

    The torpedo provides the ignition source. (Maybe!)

    The big problem is that with all the condensate that would be lining the bunkers at the end of a run on the cold waters of the Atlantic, you aren't going to have a lot of dust. More like caked on grime.



  6. #6
    Daniel Odysseus
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    ah, i see... thanks, everyone!

    -D.O.

  7. #7
    Stephen Stanger
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    Nein! T'was ammunitions, not za coal dust!

  8. #8
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    What exploding munitions? Small arms ammo was found and shells were known to be in the cargo, but none were filled with explosive.


  9. #9
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    It was a boiler explosion (cold water + a hot boiler + 215psi = bang ) they did not have the time to blow down the boilers like in titanic's case. I don't know what the p.r.v. arangement was. i will chech tonight and post it hear.

  10. #10
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    The reason alot of innocent people died is
    because when the Lusitania was torpedoed, a second explosion that we may never know occured.
    After the second the explosion, the liner lurched
    and was listing to starboard. The lifeboats
    on the portside all swung inward and many of them
    crashed killing many people on deck or injuring them. Many had overturned spilling many people
    in the water. Also, at 2:14 p.m. the power
    failed and many of the crewmen who were in the baggage room were trapped beacuse the lifts stopped. The butchers who were working decks below hurried to the lifts only to get trapped.
    Many first class passengers got trapped in the lifts. Many lifeboats dropped on others crushing
    people. Many of the people who jumped in the
    water would die due to the coldness.

  11. #11
    Noel F.Jones
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    "Also, at 2:14 p.m. the power failed and many of the crewmen who were in the baggage room were trapped beacuse the lifts stopped."

    You'd only find a couple of baggage masters in the baggage room at the most.

    "The butchers who were working decks below hurried to the lifts only to get trapped."

    There's always ladders up from the stores flats.

    "Many first class passengers got trapped in the lifts."

    Any ******* idiot who makes for a lift in a stricken ship - or building for that matter - is clearly possessed of a death-wish anyway.

    Noel

  12. #12
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    "Any ******* idiot who makes for a lift in a stricken ship - or building for that matter - is clearly possessed of a death-wish anyway."

    Noel,

    When analysing past calamitous events, it is important for us to disavow any foreknowledge of our capacity for "prudence" under pressure.

    None of us has any idea what we might do in a similar situation. Only a fool or a liar would claim to know what they would (or wouldn't) do if a torpedo struck our vessel, and it important to be mindful of this fact rather than expressing armchair scorn and contempt for those who made - in retrospect - the wrong decision.

    Ben

  13. #13
    Noel F.Jones
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    "... and it important to be mindful of this fact rather than expressing armchair scorn and contempt for those who made - in retrospect - the wrong decision."

    I am duly castigated.

    But do we have firm evidence that anyone actually did perish in stalled elevator cars?

    If proper emergency stations procedures were in place all passenger elevator cars should either have 'failed to safe' or should have been terminally parked by their attendants who should then have deployed to their emergency stations.

    All stores lifts should similarly have failed to safe, by dint of circuitry.

    Back in the 1970s we had a fire in a five-storey luxury resort hotel in Bermuda. Emergency exit stairways were clearly indicated. However, some guests, about five or seven if I recall, made for the elevators which by default were still working. They roasted alive between floors.

    Which proves nothing; other than that folly endures despite advisories to the contrary.

    Noel

  14. #14
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    >But do we have firm evidence that anyone actually did perish in stalled elevator cars?

    Have been looking for a contemporary account of that for quite some time. Have not found anything in the first person. Florence Padley did later mention seeing an elevator 'go down in a rush' which might be describing another mishap.

    I attended college, back in the 1980s, in a building which still had its original 1920s manual elevators. The outer door as well as the inner safety gate operated on a spring and lever system which was not dependent on electricity- the operator pulled lever "A" to retract the solid door and lever "B" to retract the safety gate. I am making a big assumption that a similar system was aboard Lusitania, but if it was, escape would have been relatively easy with or without power. CCNY removed the still functioning but obsolete manual elevators ca. 1990 updating to pushbutton and bringing the building up to 1935 standards.

    >Which proves nothing; other than that folly endures despite advisories to the contrary

    What advisories? Did the hotel have a staff member stationed on each floor to direct people away from the elevators who the victims chose to ignore? Were they advised to seal themselves in their rooms and avoid even the stairs by either PA announcement or general phone alert, and did they disregard those announcements? What were the smoke conditions in the halls? Were the stairwells sealed off by smoke inhibiting foyers on each floor, or was the smoke being carried upwards through them? As happened in the MGM Grand fire, did the people step out into the hall to investigate, find the smoke heavier than expected and then discover that they had forgotten to take their room keys? Did the fire happen at night when people tend to be muddled and, frequently, drunk, and how fast a fire was it? Were these people among the first to attempt to escape, or among the last? What floor were they on? Just curious as to whether it was 'folly' or lack of better options......

  15. #15
    Noel F.Jones
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    “Just curious as to whether it was 'folly' or lack of better options......”

    The fire didn't loom large in my scheme of things because by this time I had taken up a post in another resort hotel. I do remember however that it was attributed to arson.

    According to my erstwhile colleagues the fire took place around midnight and other guests managed to escape via the emergency stairways. Beyond that I'm short on detail.

    A cursory search via Google elicited nothing on the incident and it seems to have been omitted from the Royal Gazette chronological history offered on their web site. As in the case of the prolonged political hijacking of that memorial in Casement Square, Cobh, (no 'Hey Rubes' this time please) here again we have an example of embarrassing local history being elided in the interests of the local economy.

    Noel

  16. #16
    Noel F.Jones
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    In the matter of the Bermuda hotel fire where people perished in stalled elevators: with more time at my disposal a more circumspect web search via Dogpile elicited that here:

    www.bermuda.com/categories/society/1900history.htm

    was an account of the incident – but if you go there you will see it has been superseded by a bland tourist advisory. Only the search text key survives, viz.:

    A deliberately set fire at the Southampton Princess Hotel rages uncontrolled and 2 American guests and a Bermudian hotel employee are killed.

    This, I’m afraid, is typical of Bermuda; as I said earlier, the incident seems also to have been omitted from the Royal Gazette chronological history. It seems I have to revise the casualty list downwards to three. The “1900” bit must refer to 1900 to 1999; the first phase of the Southampton Princess wasn’t opened until about 1972. I ought to know, I opened it – along with a good few others of course.

    The ‘Southampton’ bit in the title is to distinguish between the new hotel and the long established Hamilton Princess, the ‘Southampton’ referring to Southampton parish where it is situated.

    For those who care to search them out there will exist of course the coroners’ inquest reports in Bermuda and very possibly records of court actions for compensation brought on the U.S. mainland.

    As a matter of interest the headquarters of Princess Hotels International was in the Bahamas but the ultimate controlling organisation was Daniel K. Ludwig’s National Bulk Carriers of New York.

    Noel

  17. #17
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    In terms of accounts of First Class passengers trapped in the elevators, there are several mentions on websites and books of Lady Mackworth's account of her escape. The very moment the torpedo hit, Margaret and her father were in the process of stepping into the elevator. Fortunately, they made a split second decision and stepped back out. A minute later when she took the stairs to get her lifebelt from the cabin, the electricity cut out and other survivors recall hearing the screams of those trapped inside the erstwhile elevator.

    Arthur

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    (no 'Hey Rubes' this time please)
    No more swipes, Noel. That thread - and the topic - were closed. Don't try to get another jab in under the arm of the umpire - if you do, it will be removed by a moderator.

  19. #19
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    >there are several mentions on websites and books of Lady Mackworth's account of her escape

    Hello, Arthur: I was speaking of contemporary accounts - Margaret Mackworth's dates from the 1930s, I believe. In several thousand pages of letters and personal accounts written between May 1915 and May 1916 I've not come across a single account in which someone said that first class passengers were trapped in the elevator. I've found (much) later newspaper accounts of the failed elevator, but as of yet nothing written while the memory was fresh by someone who did not have an eye on publication.

  20. #20
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    I think Noel Jones' post above with its reference to rubes is offensive. That does not surprise me.

    It will be remembered that Noel claimed that the Lusitania memorial in Cobh was still being occupied by hunger strike protesters in 1985.

    Despite the fact that the hunger strike process was done and dusted in 1981 with the belated granting of Prisoner of War status to those involved.

    Four years after that, on June 23, 1985, Air India Flight 182, a Boeing 747 aircraft, blew up at an altitude of 31,000 feet over the southwest coast of Ireland, killing all 329 aboard, including sixty children.

    Bodies once more came into Cobh. There will be major ceremonies next week to mark the 20th Anniversary, when we will welcome Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin to Ireland.

    All major English news media sent reporters and photographers to Cobh in 1985 to cover the Air India body recovery effort, as they had done 70 years earlier with the Lusitania.

    The large media entourage included those catering to the worst of pettyminded opinion.

    Strangely, they did not report on any hunger strike protesters bizarrely maintaining their picket on the Lusitania memorial, four years after that strife-torn time.

    They must have missed it, even though it was right down there on the seafront. Because I cannot imagine that Noel Jones might be wrong, and evidently neither can he.

  21. #21
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    I would like to echo Inger's post; her comment was spot-on.

    I had forgotten all about the Air India bombing; I now read that this was the single largest terrorist attack before the September 11th attacks, with (according to Google) the dead including eighty-two children and 280 Canadian citizens. Thanks, Senan, for the information regarding the forthcoming ceremonies.

    On another note, may I please request that any further comments - by anyone - relating to the IRA, hunger strikers, alleged picketing of the Lusitania memorial, Rubes, cover-ups, etc. is taken off-Board. Such comments are likely to generate conflict, and I don't want to have to close another thread and/or remove individual posts.

  22. #22
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    There is a memorial to the Air India victims at the closest point of land, which is the scene of a well-attended annual commemoration.

    Some Air India victim families have actually moved to Ireland to be closer to the memorial and the last resting place of their loved ones.

    In Canada the victim associations are much disappointed and angered at the failure to successfully prosecute, which may be another component in the motivation of some to leave, with others going back to India.

    A Canadian trial against two senior business figures accused of masterminding or bankrolling the outrage ended in acquittal earlier this year.

    By all accounts the prosecution case was deeply flawed.

    All we can say is that the suspicion remains that the Air India bombing was authored by members of the Sikh community in retaliation for the Indian Army's storming of the Golden Temple at Amritsar, the Sikh religion's holiest shrine, the previous year.

    Two wrongs never make a right, and the lack of closure for the Air India families must be painful indeed.

  23. #23
    Noel F.Jones
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    Hello Inger, still 'at it' I see.

    Never mind; truth will out - when I get round to it. It will be demonstrated that I know precisely what I am talking about and that certain others do not know what they are talking about - or are being less than ingenuous.

    Meanwhile:

    As a "moderator" you've proved yourself to be a most excellent intensifier!

    Kind regards,

    Noel

  24. #24
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    That's enough, Noel.

    I've already sent you a warning on another issue regarding this thread, so I suggest you take some time to cool off and then come back when you feel you can contribute to this thread in a civil manner.

    This thread is closed until cooler heads can prevail.
    Jason D. Tiller
    "To be happy is to be contented in your own mind"...Harold Godfrey Lowe
    43° 44' 01" N, 79° 24' 16"W
    Author of an upcoming biography on Arthur G. Peuchen

 

 

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