As the ill-fated ocean liner Titanic is remembered on the 102nd anniversary of its sinking, it's worth looking back through history and understanding how notable maritime disasters have long plagued us.

While the scale of the Titanic disaster should not be discounted -- more than 1,500 lives were lost when the "unsinkable" liner hit an iceberg and sank into the cold Atlantic waters -- it has been dwarfed by some other sinkings, even in the 20th century.

For the acknowledged deadliest ship sinking in history, you have to look at World War II, when around 9,000 people died in the torpedoing and sinking of a German ocean liner, the Wilhelm Gustloff.

Tasked with evacuating both German military forces and civilians as Soviet forces moved toward East Prussia in the waning days of the war in 1945, it ran afoul of a Russian submarine on January 30 and was sent to the bottom of the Baltic Sea.

As the ship sank in less than 90 minutes, fewer than a thousand of its estimated 10,000 its passengers managed to survive, making its sinking the worst disaster in recorded history.

A disaster of a different and very explosive nature was another wartime even, this time during World War I. In the harbor of Halifax, Nova Scotia, crowded with wartime maritime traffic, a ship flying a French flag and packed to the gunnels with explosives intended for the Western Front in Europe collided with a ship heading south to pick up relief supplies in New York for Belgian war relief.

A fire began on the French ship, named the Mont Blanc, whose captain steered it toward the Halifax waterfront and ran it aground. As crowds gathered on the waterfront to watch the fire, unaware of the ship's deadly cargo, Mont Blanc and her almost 3,000 tons of explosives detonated in a huge blast.

The Halifax explosion devastated large areas of the surrounding city, demolishing buildings and creating a tsunami that swept through the harbor causing even more damage.

Considered the biggest man-made explosion until the atomic bombs dropped on Japanese cities, the disaster killed around 2,000, injured at least 6,000 and left a large portion of the city's population homeless.

War and its aftermath seem to invite such disasters. In 1865, a paddle-wheel steamer called the Sultana, carrying thousands of passengers including many Union soldiers only just released from former Confederate prisons, blew up, caught fire and sank in the waters of the Mississippi River.

Carrying passengers and crew totaling almost 2,400, more than its legal capacity, north of the city of Memphis, Tennessee, an explosion in its steam boilers turned the ship into a blazing torch, burning hundreds of passenger to death as hundreds more found themselves thrown into the river by the explosion's force or jumped to evade the flames -- and drowned.

While maritime transport may have become safer with the passing of years -- as all forms of transport have done -- the spectre of possible disaster still looms, as proven by the latest ferry disaster off South Korea.

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