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Friday, 2 February, 2001, 16:04 GMT
Last male survivor of Titanic dies
The Titanic
More than 1,500 died in the North Atlantic
One of the last known survivors of the Titanic, Michel Navratil, has died in southern France at the age of 92.

He was just three years old when the ship hit an iceberg in the north Atlantic and sank shortly before midnight on 14 April 1912.

I don't recall being afraid. I remember the pleasure of going 'plop' into the lifeboat

Michel Navratil
Mr Navratil and his two-year-old brother were put in a lifeboat and rescued by an ocean liner, but his father went down with the ship.

Mr Navratil was the last known male survivor. Four women survivors are believed to still be alive, according to the Titanic Historical Society.

Lasting memory

''I don't recall being afraid. I remember the pleasure really of going 'plop' into the lifeboat,'' he once said.

Titanic lifeboat
Mr Navratil's father died in the sinking
Mr Navratil said his experiences on the Titanic and the loss of his father had a profound effect on him.

''I died at four. Since then I have been a fare-dodger of life. A gleaner of time,'' he said.

The strange circumstances of his presence on the ship and his survival has fascinated Titanic historians and the public for decades.

False name

Mr Navratil's father bought tickets under a false name because he was taking the boys to New York without the permission of his estranged wife in France.

On the night the ship hit the iceberg, Mr Navratill said his father came into the cabin where he and his brother were sleeping.

''He dressed me very warmly and took me in his arms. A stranger did the same for my brother,'' he recalled.

''When I think of it now, I am very moved. They knew they were going to die.''

Boys unclaimed

When the boys arrived in New York, a woman who had been in their lifeboat took care of them until their mother could be found.

The pair became known as ''The orphans of the Titanic'' because no one came forward to claim them as their real names were not known.

Eventually their mother in France read newspaper reports about her lost sons and retrieved them.

Later in life, Mr Navratil made a career as a professor of philosophy in Montpellier where he died on Wednesday.

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