WASHINGTON — Searchers are scouring the North Atlantic for a missing submersible that was meant to visit the wreck of the Titanic.
Fears are growing for the five people on board as the ship has oxygen for up to 96 hours.
Here’s what we know so far:
The 6.5-metre (21ft) craft began its descent on Sunday but lost contact with the surface less than two hours later, authorities said.
Its operator, a company called OceanGate Expeditions, told AFP in a statement on Monday that “for some time we have been unable to establish communications with one of our submersible exploration vehicles currently visiting the site. of the wreck of the Titanic”.
The company uses a submersible named Titan for its wreck dives, with seats priced at $250,000 apiece, according to its website.
Who’s on board?
One of the passengers was identified as British businessman Hamish Harding, whose aviation company had posted information about his expedition on social media.
Harding, a 58-year-old aviator, space tourist and president of Action Aviation, posted on his Instagram account on Sunday that he was proud to be joining OceanGate’s Titanic mission.
Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman Dawood are also on board.
“At this time, contact has been lost with their submersible and the information available is limited,” their family said in a statement.
Shahzada Dawood is the vice chairman of the Karachi-headquartered conglomerate Engro, which invests in energy, agriculture, petrochemicals and telecommunications.
Where did the ship disappear to?
Researchers scanned a remote region of the North Atlantic where the Titanic lies 650 kilometers (400 miles) off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, and some 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) underwater.
What’s new on rescue?
The US Coast Guard says it launched two planes and its Canadian counterparts sent one plane and one ship.
Time is a critical factor, as the ship has a maximum of 96 hours of air for five people.
U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral John Mauger told reporters in Boston on Monday he believed he still had 70 hours or more left.
But with no reported sightings of the ship or communication signals, his team halted flights for the day.
He said overnight search operations would be led by the US National Guard and the mission operator.
Why visit the Titanic?
The 46,000 ton liner struck an iceberg and sank on her maiden voyage from England to New York in April 1912 with 2,224 passengers and crew on board.
More than 1,500 people died, some of whom were magnates and aristocrats.
The disaster became popular as an example of hubris, as the ship had been touted as a miracle of the industrial age and unsinkable.
Some also saw it as discrimination, with the vast majority of deceased passengers being in second or third class.
The wreck was located in 1985 by a US-French expedition, deepening fascination with the disaster, fueling a 1997 blockbuster film and spawning lucrative but high-stakes underwater tourism.
Ships and planes search for a submarine that went missing on a trip to the wreck of the Titanic
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