Officials: Human remains at Titanic shipwreck site

Apr 15, 2012, 5:48 AM

NEW YORK (AP) – Human remains may be embedded in the mud of the North Atlantic where the New York-bound Titanic came to rest when it sank 100 years ago, a federal official said Saturday.

A 2004 photograph, released to the public for the first time this week in an uncropped version to coincide with the disaster’s centenary, shows a coat and boots in the mud at the legendary shipwreck site.

“These are not shoes that fell out neatly from somebody’s bag right next to each other,” James Delgado, the director of maritime heritage at the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration, told The Associated Press in a phone interview.

The way they are “laid out” makes a “compelling case” that it is where “someone has come to rest,” he said.

The image, along with two others showing pairs of boots resting next to each other, were taken during an expedition led by NOAA and famed Titanic finder Robert Ballard in 2004. They were published in Ballard’s book on the expedition. Delgado said the one showing a coat and boots was cropped to show only a boot.

The New York Times first reported about the photographs in Saturday editions.

Filmmaker James Cameron, who has visited the wreck 33 times, told the newspaper that he had seen “zero human remains” during his extensive explorations of the Titanic. “We’ve seen shoes. We’ve seen pairs of shoes, which would strongly suggest there was a body there at one point. But we’ve never seen any human remains.”

For Delgado, who was the chief scientist on an expedition in 2010 that mapped the entire site, the difference in opinion is “one of semantics.”

“I as an archaeologist would say those are human remains,” he said, referring to the photograph of the coat and boots specifically. “Buried in that sediment are very likely forensic remains of that person.”

He said in an email that the images “speak to the power of that tragic and powerful scene 2 1/2 miles below” and “to its resilience as an undersea museum, as well as its fragility.”

“This is an appropriate time to note the human cost of that event, and the fact that in this special place at the bottom of the sea, evidence of the human cost, in the form of the shattered wreck, the scattered luggage, fittings and other artifacts, and the faint but unmistakable evidence that this is where people came to rest, is present,” he said.

He said the images are also evidence that society could do a better job protecting the site.

There has been a long fight to protect the Titanic since it was rediscovered by Ballard in 1985, beginning with a federal law passed by Congress aimed at creating an international agreement to transform the shipwreck into an international maritime memorial. Sen. John Kerry introduced what some observers see as stronger legislation April 1 aimed at protecting the site from “salvage and intrusive research.”

But the luxury liner, which went down April 14, 1912, after striking an iceberg, sits in international waters, limiting what the U.S. government can do.

Delgado said an international treaty would need to be negotiated between Britain, Canada, France and the U.S.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

Tourists take a selfie in front of the Trevi Fountain, in Rome, Monday, June 20, 2022. Summer trave...
Associated Press

After two pandemic years, a summer travel bounce — and chaos

JERUSALEM (AP) — At a tourism conference in Phuket last month, Thailand’s prime minister looked out at attendees and posed a question with a predictable answer. “Are you ready?” Prayuth Chan-ocha asked, dramatically removing his mask and launching what’s hoped to be the country’s economic reset after more than two years of coronavirus-driven restrictions. When […]
3 hours ago
Tourists take a selfie in front of the Trevi Fountain, in Rome, Monday, June 20, 2022. Summer trave...
Associated Press

After two pandemic years, a summer travel bounce — and chaos

JERUSALEM (AP) — At a tourism conference in Phuket last month, Thailand’s prime minister looked out at attendees and posed a question with a predictable answer. “Are you ready?” Prayuth Chan-ocha asked, dramatically removing his mask and launching what’s hoped to be the country’s economic reset after more than two years of coronavirus-driven restrictions. When […]
3 hours ago
A currency trader walks by the screen showing the foreign exchange rate between U.S. dollar and Sou...
Associated Press

Asian shares mostly lower after pessimistic ‘tankan’ survey

TOKYO (AP) — Asian benchmarks were mostly lower on Friday, echoing a decline on Wall Street, after a quarterly report by Japan’s central bank rekindled worries about the world’s third largest economy. Shares fell in Tokyo, Seoul, Sydney and Shanghai. Markets were closed in Hong Kong for a holiday. Recent data suggest global growth is […]
3 hours ago
FILE - WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner is escorted to a courtroom for ...
Associated Press

Trial for US basketball star begins in Moscow-area court

MOSCOW (AP) — U.S. basketball star Brittney Griner is set to go on trial in a Moscow-area court Friday, about 4 1/2 months after she was arrested on cannabis possession charges at an airport while traveling to play for a Russian team. The Phoenix Mercury center and two-time U.S. Olympic gold medalist could face up […]
1 day ago
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a joint news conference with Indonesian President Joko Wid...
Associated Press

Putin’s week: Facing NATO expansion, West’s unity on Ukraine

It has not been an easy week for Russian President Vladimir Putin. He took his first foreign trip since the invasion of Ukraine to shore up relations with troublesome Central Asian allies. He watched as NATO declared Moscow its main enemy and invited Russia’s neighbors Sweden and Finland to join the alliance. And he was […]
1 day ago
FILE - Reveler carry a LTBGQ flag along Fifth Avenue during the New York City Pride Parade on Sunda...
Associated Press

Same-sex couples updating legal status after abortion ruling

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Emails and phone calls from same-sex couples, worried about the legal status of their marriages and keeping their children, flooded attorney Sydney Duncan’s office within hours of the Supreme Court’s decision eliminating the constitutional right to abortion. The ruling last week didn’t directly affect the 2015 decision that paved the way […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
...
Christina O’Haver

BE FAST to spot a stroke

Every 40 seconds—that’s how often someone has a stroke in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of death among Americans, with someone dying of a stroke every 3.5 minutes.
...
Arizona Division of Problem Gambling

Arizona Division of Problem Gambling provides exclusion solution for young sports bettors

Sports betting in Arizona opened a new world to young adults, one where putting down money on games was as easy as sending a text message.
Officials: Human remains at Titanic shipwreck site