In Greece, researchers have found and identified the wreck of the Italian freighter Taormina, which sank on 11 September 1891 near Cape Sunion.
Greek media have reported that the wreck of the Italian freighter Taormina has been found and identified. The ship sank 130 years ago, on the morning of 11 September 1891 after colliding with the steamer Thessalia.
Investigators located the wreck of the Italian vessel at a depth of 107 metres. During the search they used, among others, ROVs equipped with video cameras. This allowed them to quickly reach the wreck and carry out a preliminary examination of the vessel. According to published information the team concluded that despite more than 130 years spent underwater, the wreck is still in excellent condition.
The freighter was heading from Istanbul in Turkey to the Greek port of Piraeus with a cargo of commercial goods and passengers. The steamer, on the other hand, was sailing in the opposite direction, making its way from Piraeus to the port on the island of Syros. Unfortunately, due to human error, the two vessels were on a collision course, which led to tragedy.
There was a collision in the early hours of the morning off Patroklos Island. The steamer Tessalia slammed her bow into the port side of the freighter Taormina. As the two vessels were in a clinch for some time, this turn of events allowed 32 crew and 12 passengers of the Taormina to be evacuated. The captain of the steamer Thessalia then gave the command to sail backwards to separate the vessels.
The hole that formed in the side of the Italian freighter as a result of the collision quickly filled with water. Because of this, the Taormina disappeared under the sea in the blink of an eye, taking to the bottom 23 passengers and 11 crew members. Without a doubt, it must be stressed that everything happened at lightning speed and only 15 minutes passed between the moment of the collision and the sinking of the freighter.
A fireman was also rescued from the disaster, being the only one to escape from the sinking vessel. The man spent five hours clinging to floating debris and drifting at sea. He was found by the crew of the steamer Makedonia, which happened to be passing nearby. The next morning, sailors from the schooner Ambelos rescued another 16 people who had lowered the lifeboat.
Thanks to archival press cuttings, we know that the Greek press of the time strongly criticised the crew of the freighter Taormina. The journalists accused the sailors of abandoning ship too hastily and not helping the passengers. It was they who made up the bulk of the 34 victims of the disaster.
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