Articles

Titanic Survivor Claims an Iceberg Didn’t Destroy the Ship

October 14, 2019


Have you ever met a person who hasn’t ever
heard the story of Titanic? Unlikely. Even if you ask a 10-year-old, they’ll tell you
exactly what took down the gigantic ship. However, some survivors of the sinking legend
would beg to differ. Here’s one of their stories, and … surprise… it has nothing
to do with an iceberg. Armenian publicist Vaghinak Byurat was 25
years old in the spring of 1912. He described what happened on his journey to America on
the most famous ship in the world in his memoirs. Quick history quiz: do you remember when the
Titanic left the Southampton dock? Did I hear April 10, 1912? Yeah, that’s right. Now back to the story: in 1912, Vaghinak published
some books together with his father, a famous Armenian writer. His task was to take the
books to America. He had some health problems, so he was denied at the consulate at first,
but he got the papers he needed to enter the US after his father pulled some strings for
him. Vaghinak caught the legendary Orient Express from Istanbul to Le Havre, and from
there he made it to Southhampton. He learned that the nearest ship departing for the New
World was the Titanic, which everyone was talking about. He was pretty excited about
the journey, and arrived at the port neatly shaven and smartly dressed, with a trendy
cap and massive glasses that were popular in the US at that time. The writer met three
men with whom he shared cabin 804. They were two Englishmen and a French guy from Alsace
named Moren. Because Moren and Vaghinak were around the same age, and Vaghinak could speak
excellent French, they quickly became friends. They would hang out on the deck, at the onboard
saloon, the bar and the library. None of them could possibly imagine what would become of
the “unsinkable” ship just days later. They went to bed rather late on April 14,
just like on the other nights. Shortly after midnight, something that sounded like a big
explosion woke everyone up. “Bam”, the nightlights went out, and the Englishmen were
jolted from their bunks by a strong push. One of them injured his head, and another
one, his arm. The two new friends helped them up, took a few belongings with them and left
the cabin, not knowing they would never step back in it. Vaghinak only took his passport
and all the cash he had – about $54.00. It was clear that something was wrong, yet
it was quiet in the corridor. The young men tried to find out what was going on. None
of the crew members wanted to say anything, but a few minutes later it was impossible
to deny that the Titanic was going underwater. Vaghinak noticed the sailors were getting
the lifeboats out and commanded they were only for women and kids. Some men tried to
sneak in anyway, but gunshots were fired off to prevent them from doing so. Vaghinak and
Moren looked at each other, understanding they had two choices: stay on the sinking
ship and say goodbye to their futures, or at least try to save themselves by jumping
in the water. Both wanted to live and both knew they could swim well, so the choice was
obvious. Moren managed to get them two life vests. Vaghinak put his passport and money
in a little bag and tied it around his neck. The Titanic’s bow was already underwater
by that time. It must have taken them real courage: imagine you’re in the middle of
the high sea on a sinking ship and you know no one will save you right away. A lot of
people in this situation wouldn’t have dared to take it to the open water. So, Vaghinak and Moren jumped and got instantly
separated by a sudden wave. It only made things worse, because braving this catastrophe with
a friend was one thing, but doing it alone was way scarier. The water in the North Atlantic
that night was just below freezing, at a scary 28 degrees Fahrenheit (-2 C). The young writer
felt his arms and legs go numb, and he was understandably getting weaker and weaker every
second. He lost the life-vest and now his only hope for survival was a lifeboat. He
was about to faint and it wasn’t getting any warmer in the water. Just then, he bumped
into something. It was a lifeboat! But if you’re hoping for a happy end at this point
– I’ll have to disappoint you. The boat was so overcrowded they pushed the young man
with a paddle when he tried to stick to the boat. He begged for help, but they refused
to show mercy. Their logic was simple: one extra man in that boat could have made it
sink, and no one in it would have a chance for survival. He had to let go of the boat,
and what happened after is a miracle. Vaghinak woke up alive on board another ship.
That ship was the Carpathia, and it was en route to New York with lucky survivors on
board. The writer had a terrible headache and he saw double, but what mattered most
is that he escaped from the freezing ocean! How did he do it? He couldn’t remember anything.
The next evening, the ship made it to New York. Without his passport and money, which
he must’ve lost at some point during the rescue, Vaghinak was taken to the hospital.
12 days later, a woman came into the room and all she could say through tears was “Oh
my dear boy!”. She turned out be the person who saved Vaghinak. Mrs. Astor was in her
fifties, and she told the young man the lifeboat he tried to get into didn’t actually leave
without him. Missis Astor told the sailors that the young man was her son, and she wouldn’t
let them go without him since she’d already lost her husband on the Titanic. It turned
out she kept Vaghinak’s passport and money and invited him to visit her when he felt
better. After he recovered, the writer was reunited with his family in Boston. He even
received all the books he planned to sell in America since they were traveling on a
different ship. Vaghinak lived a long and happy life and,
as a great storyteller, he shared what happened to him many times. Interestingly, he’s never
mentioned an iceberg hitting the Titanic, and always spoke about an explosion. If what
he said was true, something must have caused that huge explosion. It could have been a
fire, and quite a lot of people actually believe that theory, saying that coal was burning
in the ship’s hull. That fire would have started long before the ship’s departure,
and there was simply no way to put it out. Titanic must have left with the fire still
ongoing, and the flames weakened the hull so much it couldn’t survive its meeting
with an iceberg. Supporters of this theory use pictures of the Titanic leaving the docks
for evidence, pointing to a huge dark mark on the hull. Even if that’s true, though,
it’s still not obvious whether the fire lead to an explosion. And, supporters of this
theory don’t deny there was an iceberg. Another theory that explained the explosion
claimed that there was a German U-boat involved in the sinking of Titanic. The Armenian writer
was, in fact, not the only survivor who mentioned they heard explosion sounds coming from somewhere
deep in the bowels of the ship. And, they also claimed they’d seen a searchlight coming
from some ship shortly after Titanic had sunk. It wasn’t a vessel hurrying to the rescue,
so it could have actually been a submarine that surfaced to see what it’d done to the
legendary ship. This theory is highly unlikely, though, for several reasons. First of all,
as you know, the Titanic sank in 1912, which was still a time of peace. No country in the
world would dare to kill thousands of people and provoke other countries for no reason.
Secondly, a U-boat from Europe couldn’t have gone that far in those times; and it
couldn’t have been stationed in that region either. It simply wouldn’t have survived
there for a long time. Finally, hitting a target that’s moving quickly at night time
is still a challenge for submariners even today, and it was basically impossible in
1912. It’s hard to tell what could have made a
man who survived such a tragedy remember things that did or didn’t happen. Let’s hope
that in the future, scientists will be able to explain all the mysteries surrounding the
Titanic. Do you believe an explosion might have killed
Titanic, and there was no iceberg at all? Let me know down in the comments! If you learned
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