Hindenburg vs Titanic: Survival Rates

The Hindenburg disaster is often compared with the sinking of the Titanic, and there is a common misconception that the Hindenburg crash was more deadly.  In fact, the opposite is true.

titanic-hindenburg

Only 32% of those on the Titanic’s maiden voyage survived the sinking.  For certain groups of people, such as Third Class passengers and crew, the survival rate was even lower, and Second and Third Class men fared even worse; only 10% of Second Class men (15 of 157) and 14% of Third Class men (69 of 476) survived the sinking.

In contrast, the majority of passengers and crew on the Hindenburg’s last flight survived the disaster (which was not caused by the flammability of the Hindenburg’s covering, which is another misconception).

Survival Rate on Hindenburg

On Board Survived Died Percent Survived
Passengers 36 23 13 64%
Crew 61 39 22 64%
Total 97 62 35 64%

Survival Rate on Titanic

Figures for the Titanic tragedy differ slightly among various sources, but the numbers presented by the United States Senate Inquiry are generally representative:

On Board Survived Died Percent Survived
1st Class 329 199 130 60%
2nd Class 285 119 166 42%
3rd Class 710 174 536 25%
Passengers 1,324 492 832 37%
Crew 899 214 685 24%
Total 2,223 706 1,517 32%
Titanic survival rates as determined by Unites States Senate Inquiry (click to enlarge)

Titanic survival rates as determined by United States Senate Inquiry (click to enlarge)

A comparison of the two disasters reflects poorly on the officers of Titanic.

The Hindenburg disaster lasted about half a minute, and so survival was largely a matter of chance.  RMS Titanic, on the other hand, took almost two and a half hours to sink and remained level for much of that time.  If Titanic’s officers had acted with more competence and professionalism there could have been an orderly evacuation, but instead many lifeboats were launched less than half full and “women and children first” was interpreted by at least one officer as “woman and children only.”  Tragedy on a large scale was unavoidable, given the shortage of lifeboats carried by Titanic, but an orderly evacuation, taking full advantage of the lifeboats’ capacity to hold 1,178 persons, would have saved almost 500 additional lives.

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