Worst Maritime Disasters – Civilian
The Worst Maritime (Naval, Ship) Disasters
This list contains only disasters involving civilian ships in peacetime. Military vessels and munitions ships are a separate issue.
MV Dona Paz
Dec. 20, 1987
4,341 died when the passenger ferry Dona Paz sank after a collision with an oil tanker.
2. SS Kiangya
Dec. 4, 1948
2750 – 3920 casualties
While the cause of the sinking of the Kiangya is unknown, the suspicion is that it was the result of a left-over WWII Japanese mine. The exact death toll is also unknown, but the low end it thought to be 2,750 and the high 3,920.
3. Le Joola
Sept. 26, 2002
Rough seas cause the sinking of the ferry Le Joola, leaving an estimated 1,800 dead.
April 27, 1864
Early steamships (as well as early railroads) had issues with boiler explosions, as with the case of the Sultana. 1,800 of the 2,400 passengers died when the steamship exploded on the Mississippi River near Memphis, Tennessee.
5. Tek Sing
Feb. 6, 1822
When the Chinese junk Tek Sing struck a reef near Indonesia, it sank and left some 1,600 dead.
Great Britain (North Sea)
April 14, 1912
At the time the world’s largest passenger ship, the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank. 1,532 were killed. Thanks to books and movies, this is the most famous of shipwrecks, but certainly not the worst in terms of casualties.
7. Toya Maru
September 26, 1954
1, 153 casualties
The Toya Maru sank during Typhoon Marie in the Tsugaru Strait, taking some 1,153 with it.
8. RMS Empress of Ireland
May 29, 1914
A collision with the SS Storstad on the St. Lawrence River sank the Empress of Ireland, and claimed 1,012 lives.
10. Al salam Boccaccio 98
Feb. 3, 2006
The passenger ferry Al Salam Boccaccio 98 sank on the red sea on its way from Saudi Arabia to Egypt.The incident started with a fire and led to the ship capsizing due to seawater taken in during firefighting efforts.