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Why did so many people die

Discussion in 'Final Voyage Sinking and the Wreck' started by Daniel Odysseus, Jul 24, 2002.

  1. 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. Adam Leet

    Adam Leet Member

    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. 4) But the torpedo caused coal dust to ignite and explode thus making her sink faster.
     
  4. 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. 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. ah, i see... thanks, everyone!

    -D.O.
     
  7. Nein! T'was ammunitions, not za coal dust!
     
  8. What exploding munitions? Small arms ammo was found and shells were known to be in the cargo, but none were filled with explosive.
     
  9. Tom Bates

    Tom Bates Member

    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. 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. Noel F.Jones

    Noel F.Jones Guest

    "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. Ben Holme

    Ben Holme Member

    "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. Noel F.Jones

    Noel F.Jones Guest

    "... 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. Jim Kalafus

    Jim Kalafus Member

    >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. Noel F.Jones

    Noel F.Jones Guest

    “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. Noel F.Jones

    Noel F.Jones Guest

    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. 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
     
  18. Inger Sheil

    Inger Sheil Member

    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. Jim Kalafus

    Jim Kalafus Member

    >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. Senan Molony

    Senan Molony Member

    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.