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A collection of the 40 worst mercantile disasters in history—revealing that, despite popular belief, the Titanic tragedy was far from being the worst disaster at seaWhile the victims of the Titanic disaster at 1,507 persons accounted for a huge loss of life, each of the ships described in this book had a greater number of casualties, in some cases more than five times as many. In total, these 27 merchant ship sinkings resulted in a staggering loss of life at sea—more than 96,000 lives in total (3,840 per ship). While the circumstances of their losses were different than those of the Titanic, the outcome in each was no less tragic. While it is not the intention to diminish the gravity of the Titanic case, these lesser-known tragedies do give "the worst disaster at sea" a sobering perspective. Despite the fact that the Titanic disaster ranks behind so many other losses, so powerful has her name become as a representation of extreme misfortune, that it was the inevitable choice to describe some of these other events. Hence, they have come to be known as "Germany's Titanic" and "The Titanic of Japan" as just two examples. Ships include the Lancastria, sunk by German bombers with a loss of 3,000 British lives (Britain's worst maritime disaster); the Ryusei Maru, a Japanese "Hellship" loaded with 6,000 Allied POWs that was torpedoed by a US submarine; and the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German liner packed with 7,800 civilians in operation "Hannibal" evacuation, sunk by a Russian submarine. There were no survivors and this tragedy was the worst maritime disaster of all time.

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