In pictures: the sinking of the Titanic

By Ian Jones, MSN news editor Rex Features
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Images from the hours, days and weeks following the disaster

At 11.39pm on 14 April 1912, a lookout on watch aboard the Titanic spotted an iceberg directly in the ship's path. Action was immediately taken to try and manoeuvre the vessel to avoid a collision, but it was too late. The iceberg tore a series of narrow holes in the starboard side of the hull. Click through for the story of the Titanic's sinking and its aftermath. This picture shows the iceberg that sank the ship.

REUTERS/Father Browne/Universal Images Group/Getty Images/Handout
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The first SOS message wasn't sent until almost half an hour after the collision. This picture shows the telegram sent by senior wireless operator Jack Phillips, saying that Titanic was sinking and passengers were being put into lifeboats.

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The lifeboats are launched

As soon as it was evident the Titanic was sinking, the ship's captain Edward Smith ordered the preparation of the Titanic's lifeboats. The first one was launched at 12.45am in the early hours of 15 April. This was lifeboat No. 7, which rowed away from Titanic with 28 passengers on board - despite a capacity of 65.

AP Photo/Ed Andrieski
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Molly Brown

The next lifeboat to be launched was no. 6, at 12.55am (pictured above). It also had 28 people on board, among them Molly Brown. She became famous for helping to row the lifeboat, and for encouraging the crew to return to the scene of the sinking to pick up more survivors. It is still unclear whether any were found.

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And the band played on...

This is a letter written by violinist Wallace Hartley, best remembered as the bandleader who, along with his seven fellow musicians, played on as the Titanic sank. For many years it was thought the band were playing the hymn Nearer My God To Thee as the ship actually sank beneath the waves. In fact this was one of a number of hymns, songs and dance tunes they performed over the course of the sinking. This two-page letter was composed earlier on the voyage, and was written on adjoining sheets of White Star Line watermarked paper.

REUTERS/Keith Bedford
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The news breaks

The Titanic finally sank at 2.20am on 15 April, with over one thousand people still on board. The first the world knew of the scale of the disaster came in the form of wireless messages transmitted by the RMS Carpathia, which was 58 miles away, and which arrived on the scene two hours after the ship had sunk.

REUTERS/George Grantham Bain Collection/Library of Congress/Handout
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Survivors wait to be rescued

This picture shows two of the Titanic's lifeboats, making their way to the Carpathia in the hours immediately after the disaster. The Carpathia did not arrive at the scene of the sinking until around 4.00am, though its lights were spotted by survivors in the lifeboats half an hour earlier. It took several hours to transfer the survivors on to the Carpathia, during which several died from exposure.

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Climbing aboard the Carpathia

Some of the survivors were strong enough to climb up on to the Carpathia using rope ladders. But others had to be hoisted up in slings, while some of the children were hoisted in mail sacks. All of the known survivors were aboard by around 9.00am. The last lifeboat to reach the ship was No. 12, with a total of 74 people aboard a boat designed to carry 65.

REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
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Reporting the news

Newspapers around the world were quick to make the sinking of the Titanic their lead story. However due to limited communication with the ships involved in the rescue effort, it was only after the Carpathia had returned to New York that the exact details of the sinking began to become public knowledge.

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Rumours spread

Meanwhile people were desperate for news of what had happened. From 15 April onwards, huge crowds gathered in front of the New York office of the White Star Line, the Titanic's owners, waiting for any information on survivors.

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Reading the latest

Other crowds gathered in front of the The New York Sun's building on Broadway to read the bulletin board listing the latest news about the Titanic's fate.

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The days pass

It took the Carpathia three days to return to New York. Each day the crowds in the city grew larger, as more information became known concerning who had survived the sinking.

Reuters/Courtesy of Dalhousie University Archives and Special Collections, Halifax, N.S. Thomas Head Raddall Fonds/Handout
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Burial at sea

Before the Carpathia had reached New York, four ships were chartered by the White Star Line to sail to the scene of the sinking to look for bodies. In total 328 bodies were retrieved; 119 of these - mostly Third Class passengers and those who could not be identified - were immediately buried at sea. The remaining 209 were brought to the Canadian port of Halifax in Nova Scotia, where 150 of them were buried.

REUTERS/Courtesy of Dalhousie University Archives and Special Collections, Halifax, N.S. Dalhousie University Photograph Collection/Handout
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Coffins for the dead

Some of the coffins used for the recovered bodies are seen in Halifax.

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The scene in the UK

Concern over the fate of the ship's passengers and crew was even greater in the UK. It would turn out that 549 Southampton residents, almost all crew, were lost in the disaster. This picture shows the inside of Oceanic House, London, where people came for news of the disaster.

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Arrival in New York

The Carpathia travelled through pack ice, fog, thunderstorms and rough sea before arriving at Pier 34 in New York on the evening of 18 April. Around 40,000 people were waiting on the waterfront.

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The 'Titanic orphans'

Michel and Edmond, ages four and two, better known as the "Titanic Orphans" were the only children rescued from the Titanic without a parent or guardian. The children, who spoke no English, were cared for by First Class French-speaking passenger Margaret Hays until their mother was located in France. Their father had placed the pair in the very last lifeboat successfully launched from the Titanic.

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A total of 710 people survived the sinking of the Titanic. Some remained in hospital for weeks after the disaster, slowly recuperating and recovering.

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Around 1,500 people died in the sinking of the Titanic. The funeral of the richest passenger on the voyage, 47-year-old John Jacob Astor IV, took place on 4 May 1912 (pictured). Astor's body had been recovered on 22 April by the steamer Mackay-Bennett, a cable-ship chartered by White Star Line. He had last been seen on the Titanic's starboard bridge wing, smoking a cigarette. Astor was buried in Trinity Church Cemetery in New York City. Several months later his widow, 18-year-old Madeleine Astor, gave birth to his second son, John Jacob Astor VI.