SANTIAGO – Explorers have found the hulk of the steamship Itata, known as the “Chilean Titanic,” which sank 95 years ago off the country’s northern Pacific coast with more than 400 aboard.
The greatest marine disaster in Chile’s history left 374 people dead.
The discovery of the Itata is the culmination of years of work, one of the expedition leaders, marine biologist and documentary filmmaker Carlos Cortes told the media.
He said that the spot where the Itata sunk was pinpointed several weeks ago by a team from Chile’s Universidad Catolica del Norte (UCN) and Matthias Gorny, an expert in Remotely Operated Vehicles who is science director of the global conservation group Oceana.
But at first, the team did not find any wreckage.
“History changed just a few days later, when the images sent back by the robot submarine from a depth of 200 meters (660 ft) confirmed that the expedition was directly over a part of the ship,” Cortes said.
Javier Sellanes, the head of research at UCN’s school of marine science, said that the discovery of the Itata opens up possibilities for study in fields ranging from underwater archaeology to history and anthropology, and even to disciplines such as chemistry and marine biology.
“All of this will continue to be carried out with the appropriate permits and due respect both for those who lost their lives in this tragic event and their families,” he said.
The endeavor was started seven years ago by Cortes in partnership with sociologist Ricardo Bordones, who thanked UCN, the Chilean navy, Oceana, Chile’s Culture Council, the town of La Higuera and the Sacyr and TPC companies for supporting the project.