Missing submersible: only themselves to blame?

The rescue operation in the search for the submersible vessel Titan in the North Atlantic is growing after the latter disappeared on Sunday on its way to the wreck of the Titanic. The oxygen on board is only expected to last until Thursday noon. On Tuesday, the US Coast Guard detected via sonar underwater noises that could potentially be signs of life. The five people on board are mostly wealthy tourists, and it had been known for some time that there were safety issues with the submersible.

Il Manifesto (IT) /

At their own risk

The people on board the Titan knew what they were getting into, Il Manifesto points out:

“Trips to the wreck of the Titanic are not cheap: a ticket for the submersible costs 250,000 dollars and the boat is just seven metres long. Passengers have to sign a document that states that the sub is an experimental vessel that ‘has not been approved or certified by any government agency and may result in physical injury, disability, emotional trauma or death’. Until yesterday, this had no deterrent effect, so powerful is the appeal of the Titanic.”

Fabrizio Tonello
De Volkskrant (NL) /

Bizarre ego trips

De Volkskrant columnist Peter de Waard sees this brand of extreme tourism by the super-rich as antisocial:

“The deep-sea, space, Himalayan and polar tourists are united by the fact that their activities are only for themselves, with no benefit for the community. But when they get into trouble, they have to be rescued at the expense of that very same community. ... Billionaires can afford these bizarre excesses because it has become impossible to tax their wealth internationally. The money should be used to fight famine in Darfur, to fight malaria, to take in refugees in Tunisia and Turkey or to clean up the oceans. With these excesses the world will only become dirtier and more anti-social.”

Peter de Waard
The Guardian (GB) /

A shameful contrast in rescue efforts

The efforts now underway to rescue the passengers raise moral questions for The Guardian:

“The US coastguard, Canadian armed forces and commercial vessels are all hunting for the Titan submersible, which has gone missing with five aboard on a dive to the wreck of the Titanic in the north Atlantic. The UK’s Ministry of Defence is also monitoring the situation. It is hard to think of a starker contrast with the response to a fishing boat which sank in the Mediterranean last week with an estimated 750 people, including children, packed onboard. Only about 100 survived, making this one of the deadliest disasters in the Mediterranean. ... Activists say authorities were repeatedly warned of the danger this boat faced, hours before it went down, but failed to act.”