Was a 'mirage' to blame for the sinking of the Titanic?

Was a mirage to blame for the sinking of the Titanic?PA

A leading expert on the Titanic has uncovered research that suggests a "mirage" was the cause of its downfall.

Tim Maltin has spent six years analysing previously unseen weather records from more than 75 ships' logs from the same week the liner sunk on 15 April 1912.

He now believes a "haze", created by a unique set of weather conditions caused an abnormal bending of light (a "super refraction"), was what caused the sinking.

He found that the cold water of the Labrador Current was new to the Titanic's crash site at the time, and cooled the warm air of the Gulf Stream, from the bottom up.

This process created a strong thermal inversion, where warm air lies above cold air and causes light to bend.

The result? The horizon would have appeared higher than normal to the Titanic's lookouts and disguised the iceberg's outline.

It would also have disguised the emergency flares sent up by the crew from the vision of the SS Californian.

According to The Daily Telegraph, he said: "Several of the log books I found recorded miraging and abnormal refraction, which are common in cold water areas, such as the Labrador Current.

"The warm air higher up also caused Titanic's distress rockets to appear low to the SS Californian and scramble the Morse Code signal, adding to the confusion about what was seen."

Maltin said he was pleased the findings validated the lookouts' claims, saying: "For years Titanic's lookouts were not believed when they said the iceberg came out of a haze on that clear night, but now we know they were telling the truth."

He added: "It's nice to know that so many lives were not lost simply as a result of avoidable human mistake, but that it was a set of circumstances so peculiar that the crew were caught out."

The results of Tim Maltin's research will be shown in a TV documentary called Titanic: Case Closed, showing on National Geographic at 8pm on 10 April.

Meanwhile, plans for a Titanic centenary carnival in Liverpool have been blasted by some critics.

Liverpool council has organised a three-day 'sea odyssey' parade to commemorate 100 years since the Titanic sunk.

But the £2 million carnival idea, funded by the European and Arts Council, hasn't gone down well with everyone: particularly 56-year-old Clifford Ismay, a relative of the J Bruce Ismay, who founded White Star Line, the company which built the Titanic.

He believes that holding a street carnival is not a fitting tribute to a disaster that caused 1,500 fatalities.

Do you think the idea is insensitive? And do you think the Titanic's sinking could have been cause by a "mirage"? Leave your thoughts below...

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