Titanic has gone down in history as the ship that was called unsinkable. For more than 100 years, she has been the inspiration of fiction and non-fiction.
Titanic’s sinking has become a cultural phenomenon, commemorated by artists, film-makers, writers, composers, musicians and dancers from the time immediately after the sinking to the present day.
On 1 September 1985, a joint US-French expedition found the wreck. The ship’s rediscovery led to an explosion of interest.
In 1997, James Cameron’s eponymous film became the first movie ever to take $1 billion at the box office, and the soundtrack became the best selling soundtrack recording of all time.
The number of casualties of the sinking is unclear, due to a number of factors. These include confusion over the passenger list, which included some names of people who cancelled their trip at the last minute.
And the fact that several passengers travelled under aliases for various reasons and were therefore double-counted on the casualty lists. The death toll has been put at between 1,490 and 1,635 people.
The water temperature in the area where Titanic sank, which was well below normal, also contributed to the rapid death of many passengers during the sinking.
Water temperature readings taken around the time of the accident were reported to be −2 °C. The coldness of the water was a critical factor, often causing death within minutes for many of those in the water.
Fewer than a third of those aboard Titanic survived the disaster. 49% of the children, 26% of the female passengers, 82% of the male passengers and 78% of the crew died. Proportionately, the heaviest losses were suffered by the second-class men, of whom 92% died.
The figures show stark differences in the survival rates of the different classes aboard Titanic. Although only 3% of first-class women were lost, 54% of those in third class died.
Five of six first-class and all second-class children survived, but 52 of the 79 in third class perished. The differences by gender were even bigger: nearly all female crew members, first and second class passengers were saved.
In total, 50% of the children survived, 20% of the men and 75% of the women.
Only 333 bodies of Titanic victims were recovered, one in five of the over 1,500 victims. Some bodies sank with the ship while currents quickly dispersed bodies and wreckage across hundreds of miles making them difficult to recover.