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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.

June 15, 1904 – The General Slocum excursion steamer sinks in the East River in New York, 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, killing about 1,600 people.

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.

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.

April 16, 1945 – Between 6,000 and 7,000 people are killed when the German ocean liner Goya is torpedoed by a Russian submarine off the coast of Gdansk, Poland.

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.

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

April 22, 1980 – About 1,000 people 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 people are killed when the ferry Dona Paz collides with the tanker MT Victor in the Philippines.

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. At least 1,000 people are killed.

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