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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
    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?


  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2001
    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.


  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    4) But the torpedo caused coal dust to ignite and explode thus making her sink faster.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    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.


  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    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
    ah, i see... thanks, everyone!


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

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2000
    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
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    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
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    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.


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