Why did so many people die on the titanic?

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Combination of factors. Titanic was branded as 'unsinkable', so even when she hit the iceberg, people were convinced that it wouldn't sink. The SOS signal that they were sinking was not sent out for quite a while (possibly up to an hour?) after she struck. They only had enough lifeboats for about half of the people on board. Possibly less. Because people didn't think she'd actually sink (it was probably assumed that it'd float for a while and they could either continue sailing, or another boat could come and rescue the remaining passengers), the lifeboats were launched only part full. The upper classes were seen as more important, and 3rd class passengers were made to "wait their turn". Of course their turn never came, so they either drowned when the ship went down, or died in the freezing waters of hypothermia. People in lifeboats were later picked up by the Carpathia. There's no guarantee, but it is possible that if the SOS signal had been sent as soon as they hit the iceberg, and ... more
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