Titanic survivor's tale of disaster sold at British auction

17th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

An account of the sinking of the Titanic written by a survivor who was secretary to a controversial aristocrat has sold for 20,000 pounds (23,000 euros, 32,000 dollars), auctioneers in Britain said Sunday.

Laura Francatelli wrote of how she heard an "awful rumbling" as the liner went down before hearing "screams and cries" from hundreds of drowning passengers.

She was travelling with her employer, Scottish landowner Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon and his wife Lady Lucy Christiana when the disaster struck in 1912.

Duff-Gordon and his party boarded one of the last lifeboats, which had space for 40 people but only ended up carrying five passengers and seven crew.

He later paid the crew members around five pounds each -- the equivalent of about 300 pounds today -- and had to defend himself against claims that he had paid them off to secure his own safety.

In one of the most vivid passages of her account -- an affidavit for the British inquiry into the disaster -- Francatelli detailed what happened after their lifeboat was lowered into the sea.

"We kept on rowing and stopping and rowing again I heard some talk going on all about the suction if the ship went down," she wrote.

"We were a long way off when we saw the Titanic go right up at the back and plunge down.

"There was an awful rumbling when she went. Then came the screams and cries. I do not know how long they lasted. We had hardly any talk. The men spoke about God and prayers and wives. We were all in the darkness."

The Titanic hit an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean on her maiden voyage from Southampton, southern England, to New York City in April 1912, killing around 1,500 people.

Francatelli's account was sold Saturday to an unnamed eastern European collector by auctioneers Henry Aldridge and Son in Devizes, southwest England as part of an auction of Titanic memorabilia.

© 2010 AFP

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