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Thursday, 9 April, 1998, 05:15 GMT 06:15 UK
Records show Titanic blunder
The Hollywood film has renewed interest in the ship
Documents from Britain's Public Record Office show that scenes from the Hollywood blockbuster Titanic in which third class passengers are locked below deck as the ship sinks are false.

"I think the passengers in the third class had as much chance as the first and second class passengers," reads a statement held by the Public Record Office from a third class passenger on the ship.

Only a third of the passengers survived
The Daily Telegraph said records showed that proportionally more third class than second class male passengers survived the sinking. The records office is putting the documents on display because of the huge interest in the fated vessel aroused by the Hollywood film.

The Titanic, the largest steamer ever built, sank on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York on April 14, 1912, with the loss of more than 1,500 of its 2,200 passengers. The extensive death toll was due to a lack of lifeboats.

The newspaper says the records show that 97% of women and 34% of men who had first class tickets survived. The newspaper said the high survival rate was partly due to the first class passengers proximity to the few lifeboats on the ship.

In second class, 84% of women and 8% of men survived. In third class, 55% of women and 12% of men survived - which suggests they were not locked up.

The record office display includes some of the original distress telegrams sent
The display includes a board game released three weeks after the tragedy
out by the Captain of the ship. One, received at 1.40am, 40 minutes before the ship sank, reads: "Have struck iceberg. People being put into boats."

A rare photo of the ice-mass was taken by a rescue ship. There are also pictures of those who survived in lifeboats taken moments after the Titanic went down.

The public can see the material on a number of open days but it is advisable to book.

See also:

08 Aug 98 | World
Going, going, gone ... down
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