Barack Obama has wondered why the Titan submarine disaster that killed five men received wall-to-wall media coverage while a sinking boat carrying 700 refugees was ignored.
The former president drew the comparisons during a speech at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation in Athens on Thursday, hours before the US Coast Guard confirmed the submarine had imploded.
He said it is “unsustainable” that the doomed expedition received more attention than the hundreds killed when a fishing boat capsized 50 miles off the coast of Greece.
The overcrowded boat carrying hundreds of Pakistani, Syrian, Egyptian and Palestinian refugees went down on June 14 — two days before the $250,000 OceanGate tour to the Titanic wreckage was reported missing.
Eighty-two passengers were found dead, 104 of the more than 750 occupants were rescued and the rest are still missing. More than 100 children are among the missing.
Barack Obama has wondered why the Titan submarine disaster that killed five people received wall-to-wall media attention – while a sinking boat carrying 700 refugees was ignored
“There is a potential tragedy going on with the submarine broadcasting minute by minute around the world,” he said.
“This is understandable because we all want and pray for these people to be saved.
“But the fact that this has received so much more attention than the fact that 700 people sank is an unsustainable situation.”
The International Organization for Migration called it one of “the worst maritime tragedies of the past decade.”
Obama also brought up the parallels in an interview with CNN earlier on Thursday.
When he talked about how democracies cannot thrive with high levels of inequality, he used the sub-tragedy as an example.
“In some ways, it’s indicative of the extent to which people’s life chances have grown so unevenly.”
It was revealed on Thursday that the five in OceanGate’s Titan died instantly when the submarine suffered a ‘catastrophic implosion’ just 500 meters from the Titanic’s bow
The overcrowded boat carrying hundreds of Pakistani, Syrian, Egyptian and Palestinian refugees sank on June 14 — two days before the $250,000 OceanGate tour to the Titanic wreckage went missing. It is pictured before it capsizes
Medical personnel carry a survivor of the fishing boat disaster on a stretcher outside a warehouse in the harbor of the city of Kalamata
Obama led the talk and interview while in Athens with wife Michelle and two daughters Malia and Sasha. On Wednesday, they visited the Acropolis to enjoy some rest.
It was revealed on Thursday that the Titan’s five interiors died instantly when the submarine suffered a “catastrophic implosion” just 1,600 feet from the Titanic’s bow.
The journey took them 12,500 feet underwater where few lifeboats could find it.
The victims include OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, French Titanic expert Paul-Henri Nargeolet, British billionaire Hamish Harding, Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman, who was just 19.
A Canadian ship’s remote-controlled submarine found debris on the ocean floor.
Shahzada Dawood, 48, a UK-based board member of the charity Prince’s Trust, and his son Suleman Dawood, 19, were killed in the tragedy
A satellite image shows ships participating in the search and rescue operations associated with the missing submarine Titan near the wreckage of the Titanic
It is likely that the men died on Sunday, before military aircraft using sonar buoys detected what they believe could be SOS sounds in the water. The US Navy said they heard a noise consistent with an implosion when communications failed about two hours after the dive.
The Navy passed that information on to the Coast Guard, an insider said.
The migrant boat that sank in one of the deepest parts of the Mediterranean has sparked a massive rescue operation involving a 90m mega yacht.
Coast Guard, Navy and merchant ships fanned out for an extensive search and rescue operation that also involved an airplane and a helicopter to rescue those who had tried to travel from Libya to Italy.
Harrowing footage showed medics rushing the survivors of the hunt onto stretchers, while others walked around barefoot and draped in blankets.
Women and children were likely trapped in the hold when the ship overturned and sank in the early hours of the morning, which could make the sinking one of the deadliest ever in the central Mediterranean.
Nine survivors have been arrested on suspicion of human trafficking – including the ship’s captain – as attention focused on Greece’s failure to act before the overcrowded ship capsized.