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Sunday, March 17, 2019

The "Chilean Titanic" is found almost a century after its shipwreck

A group of explorers found the Itata steamboat, also known as the "Chilean Titanic", which 95 years ago sank in a big storm off the coasts of the northern region of Coquimbo, with more than 400 people on board.
"We could ensure that for Chile, the Itata find is the most important in terms of underwater heritage," filmmaker and marine biologist at the Catholic University of the North (UCN), Carlos Cortés, told reporters.
Cortes, who was one of the people who led the expedition, explained that they were years of research and research "so it is a great achievement to have completed this work".
"What follows is to launch our documentary, finish processing the permits of national monuments to do the archaeological survey, and seek funding for the realization of our fiction film," Cortés added.
He explained that a few weeks ago, the group of researchers from the UCN and the Director of Science of Oceana, Matthias Gorny, expert in the management of the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV)), had located the point of sinking, but without finding the remains ship's.
"The story changed only a few days later, when at 200 meters depth the images that the submarine robot was throwing confirmed that the expedition was on part of the boat," he said.
The research secretary of the School of Marine Sciences of the UCN, Javier Sellanes, a unit that will receive an ROV in the coming months that will make it possible to continue researching the wreck, emphasized that the discovery also opens up "a huge range of possibilities" for research, from underwater archeology to anthropology, history and even chemistry and marine biology.
"All this will continue to be done with the corresponding permits and due respect for those who lost their lives in this tragic event and their families," he added.
It was seven years ago that Cortés together with the audiovisual producer Ricardo Bordones started this investigation.
"First we reissued a book by one of the shipwrecked Itata, and over time we gathered more background, and we could add the support of the UCN, the Navy of Chile, the NGO Oceana, the Council of Culture, the municipality of La Higuera, the Sacyr and TPC companies, fundamental support for the realization of the research objectives, "said Bordones.
Finding Itata was crucial to close this story, and it was thus that Oceana joined the exploratory works. It was known that the steam was between Punta de Choros and Caleta Chungungo, an area that the marine conservation NGO knows very well.
"In Oceana we have made several scientific expeditions off the coast of La Higuera due to the environmental importance of this place," said Matthias Gorny, director of Sciences at Oceana Chile.
"Therefore, we wanted to collaborate in the search for Itata, taking advantage of the technology we have, and thanks to the images of our submarine robot, we were able to confirm that what was there was the remains of the ship," he added.
The Itata find, on the other hand, adds new tourist attractions for the Coquimbo region, recognized worldwide for its natural wealth.
The ship is sunken in front of one of the most visited areas in the region, 458 kilometers north of Santiago, in the vicinity of the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve, a privileged place for the sighting of cetaceans and marine birds.
The wreck of the "Chilean Titanic" is the greatest naval tragedy in the history of the country, a misfortune that mourned hundreds of Chilean families, especially the port cities of Valparaiso and Coquimbo, in the unfortunate 1922.
That year is also remembered for the earthquake of Vallenar of 8.5 magnitude and the subsequent tsunami that generated and ended up sweeping the coasts of Coquimbo, leaving a trail of death and destruction in its wake. 

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