Major Ferry/Ship Sinkings Fast Facts



Here’s a look at major ferry and ship sinking disasters throughout history.

This timeline is not-all inclusive; various incidents with at least 1,000 fatalities are listed. Death tolls vary by source.


April 27, 1865 – The Mississippi River steamer Sultana explodes and sinks near Memphis, Tennessee, killing between 1,450 and 1,700 people. (Death tolls vary by source.)

June 15, 1904 – The General Slocum excursion steamer sinks in the East River in New York City, killing 1,021 people.

April 15, 1912 – The Titanic sinks in the North Atlantic Ocean after hitting an iceberg on April 14, 1912, killing 1,503 people.

September 28, 1912 – The Japanese steamer Kiche Maru sinks during a typhoon off the coast of Japan, killing more than 1,000 people.

May 29, 1914 – British steamer Empress of Ireland collides with the Norwegian ship Storstad in the St. Lawrence River, killing 1,014 people.

May 7, 1915 – The luxury liner Lusitania sinks off the coast of Ireland killing approximately 1,198 people after being torpedoed by a German submarine.

February 26, 1916 – The French ship Provence is torpedoed and sinks in the Mediterranean Sea, killing 3,100 people.

August 29, 1916 – The Chinese steamer Hsin Yu sinks off the coast of China, killing about 1,000 people.

December 6, 1917 – The French ammunition ship Mont Blanc and Belgian steamer Imo collide in Halifax Harbor; about 1,600 people are killed.

March 18, 1921 – A steamer named Hong Kong sinks in the South China Sea, killing approximately 1,000 people.

January 30, 1945 – The Wilhelm Gustloff sinks in the Baltic Sea after being hit by Russian torpedoes, killing more than 9,000 passengers and crew members. No one knows for sure how many were on board.

February 10, 1945 – The Steuben, a German transport ship, is torpedoed in the Baltic Sea, killing 3,500 to 4,500 wounded soldiers and civilians. (Death tolls vary by source.)

April 16, 1945 – Between 6,000 and 7,000 are killed on Goya, a German ocean liner carrying mostly German refugees is torpedoed by a Russian submarine off the coast of Gdansk, Poland. (Death tolls vary by source.)

November 1, 1948 – A Chinese merchant ship with as many as 6,000 passengers explodes and sinks off southern Manchuria, killing all aboard.

December 3, 1948 – Between 1,100 and 3,920 die when Kiangya, a refugee ship explodes after hitting a mine and sinking near Shanghai. (Death tolls vary by source.)

September 26, 1954 – The Japanese ferry Toya Maru sinks in Tsugaru Strait, Japan, killing 1,172 people.

April 22, 1980 – About 1,000 die when inter-island ferry Don Juan sinks off Mindoro Island, Philippines, after colliding with the Tacloban City barge.

December, 20, 1987 – About 4,300 are killed when the ferry Dona Paz collides with the tanker MT Victor in the Philippines. Numbers have always conflicted and many claim the Dona Paz was extremely overcrowded.

September 26, 2002 – Joola, a Senegalese state-run ferry, sinks off the coast of Gambia in the Atlantic, killing approximately 1,863. It was carrying around three times its normal capacity.

February 3, 2006 – The Al-Salam Boccaccio 98, an Egyptian passenger ferry, sinks in the Red Sea due to a fire that originated below deck. The death toll is unclear; at least 343 are rescued and about 1,000 people are unaccounted for.

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Source: CNN


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