Thursday, May 29, 2014

Empress of Ireland

100 years ago today, in dense fog on the St Lawrence River the Empress of Ireland collided with the Norwegian steamship Storstad, 1,012 passengers and crew died. Following the collision, the Empress sank in 14 minutes, giving passengers little time to escape.
Empress of Ireland, from Cruising the Past.
How the Cleveland Plain Dealer covered the tragedy, May 30, 1914.
A Cleveland family lost in the disaster, from the Plain Dealer, May 30, 1914.
The Norwegian collier Storstad, note the damaged bow at right. Photo by William Notman & Son.
A grim task, sailors removing coffins of children recovered from the Lady Grey following the disaster, photo from the Bain News Service.

Less than three weeks later an inquiry was held with Lord Mersey presiding. After 11 days of testimony it was determined the Storstad's chief officer,  Alfred Toftenes, had altered course and that led to the disaster. Later a Norwegian inquiry was held which fixed blame on the tragedy on the crew of the Empress. In the litigation that followed the Canadian Pacific Railway, owner of the Empress, won a $2,000,000 suit against the owners of the Storstad.

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