Inferno at Sea; Stories of Death and Survival Aboard the Morro Castle
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It was the great disaster of the 1930s, a horrific experience for all those aboard the ill-fated liner Morro Castle. Sailing to New York from exotic, anything-goes Cuba, the luxurious cruise ship was filled with passengers finding an escape from the Great Depression. But after the parties ended and guests were packing their belongings, preparing for their arrival home in the morning, the ship became a scene of panic as a raging fire quickly spread, killing 137 and sending many overboard.
The aftermath literally floated into public view — center-stage on the beach at Asbury Park, where the Jersey Shore resort town filled with rescuers, press, and gawking curiosity-seekers from throughout the mid-Atlantic and northeast. The charred, smoldering, stranded ship quickly became a tourist attraction; hawkers sold souvenirs and photographs, and the dramatic story filled front pages for weeks.
Controversy and intrigue surrounded the mysterious death of the captain, as well as the cause of the fire itself, and much of the mystery has endured for nearly eighty years. But for many of those who survived the tragedy, it was a closed subject; they rarely spoke of the events, and held the awful memories away from loved ones.
In Inferno at Sea, we finally hear those personal accounts. Survivors tell their stories, family and friends share narratives of those lost that night, rescuers and volunteers all contribute to give us a rare glimpse into the events of September 8, 1934. The fading, maritime mystery of the Morro Castle fire remains, but those closest to the disaster speculate about what really happened, and we gain a new perspective on a famous and tragic New Jersey shipwreck.
Hardcover, 11.25 x 10.25, 152 pages.
Down the Shore Publishing