World's Worst Passenger Ship Disasters

Here's a look at some of the biggest peacetime passenger ship accidents in maritime history.

Although travelling by cruise/passenger ships is usually quite safe, the recent Costa Concordia disaster--in which 11 people lost their lives (so far; dozens are still unaccounted for)--made us wonder about the other peacetime maritime disasters out there. Here are the world's worst passenger shipping disasters; don't read this if you're soon going on a cruise--or even a boat ride!
SS General Slocum, 1904
This American passenger steamboat caught fire and sank in New York's East River on June 15, 1904. It had 1,342 people on board, out of which an estimated 1,021 lost their lives. After this horrific incident, the ship's captain, its inspectors and the president of the Knickerbocker Steamship Company were indicted.

However, only the captain was convicted of criminal negligence as he failed to maintain fire drills and fire extinguishers on board the ship!
Toya Maru, 1954
This Japanese ship sank during a wild typhoon in the Pacific Ocean on September 26, 1954. It had been operating between Hokkaido and Honshu for almost seven years but on that fateful day, it went down along with the 1,153 people on board.
As a result of this deadly accident, the Seikan tunnel was constructed to connect the two islands.
RMS Titanic, 1912
The fabled story of this legendary passenger liner has been told in several books and award-winning films. When it embarked on its maiden voyage, it was considered virtually unsinkable! However, it took a seemingly minor collision with an iceberg to sink this mighty vessel and expose a plethora of structural flaws and hubris on the part of its owners and crew.
The Titanic took down 1,517 people with it!
SS Sultana, 1865
This steamboat paddlewheeler was well-known for shuttling passengers up and down the Mississippi river back in the 1800s. On April 27, 1865, on a routine trip from New Orleans to St. Louis, an explosion in the steam boiler resulted in the deaths of over 1600 of the 2,400 people on board.
Most of the casualties were Union soldiers who were being shipped from Confederate prison camps at the peak of the American Civil War.
SS Kiangya, 1948
This passenger steamship was carrying refugees fleeing from the Communist Army during the Chinese Civil War. It is said to have hit a mine in the Huangpu River north of Shanghai and exploded as a result.
The disaster is said to have killed anywhere between 2,800 and 4,000 people, making it China's biggest maritime disaster!
MV Le Joola, 2002
This Senegalese government-owned ferry capsized off the coast of The Gambia, killing 1,863 people almost instantly. The ship was headed from Zinguinchor in the South of Senegal to its capital, Dakar. Packed to almost four times its capacity, the ship couldn't hold its own in the rough seas.
While suitable changes have been effected in shipping laws, there are still several cases of ferries overflowing with passengers in the rough waters of the Atlantic!
MV Doña Paz, 1987
This Phillippines-registered ferry collided with an oil tanker called MV Vector and instantly killed almost everyone on board both ships. While authorities couldn't come up with an exact number, it is estimated that the overall death toll resulting from this collision was as high as 4,400!
Vector Shipping was found liable for this horrific crash!



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