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Obama on the Titanic Sub and the Greek Migrant Boat Disaster

Obama Migrant Boat Titanic Sub
Former President Obama speaking at an Athens event on Friday. Credit: AMNA

Former US President Barack Obama highlighted uncomfortable parallels between the media coverage surrounding the Titanic sub and the migrant boat disaster off Greece last week.

Speaking in Athens on Friday before the news broke of the Titanic submarine disaster in the North Atlantic, Obama said:

“There is a potential tragedy unfolding with the submarine that is getting minute-to-minute coverage all around the world. This is understandable because we all want and pray that these folks are rescued.

“But, the fact that this has got so much more attention than the fact that 700 people sank is an untenable situation.”

Obama’s comment preceded the announcement by the US Coast Guard that all five passengers of the missing submersible had died after a “debris field” from the vessel was discovered near the wreckage of the Titanic.

According to Coast Guard officials, the debris was generated by a “catastrophic implosion”. Five major pieces of the submersible, named Titan, were discovered, including the nose cone.

The fate of the submersible has captured the attention of the world. Details have emerged about each passenger on board, their reasons for going and the concerns with the submersible. An outpouring of empathy and support has washed over social media for the men who each spent $250,000 to explore the wreck of the Titanic.

Social media echo Obama on the Titanic sub and the migrant boat

But echoing Obama, many on social media are calling out the disproportionate response to the Titan sub in comparison with the recent tragedy off the coast of Greece, in which a boat carrying between 400 and 750 migrants capsized.

Only 104 people have been rescued, with 82 found dead and the rest unaccounted for.

Some people on social media sites such as Twitter and TikTok are calling out the disproportionate response in media coverage, government action and empathy expressed online.

Many attribute the difference in responses to the difference in people on both vessels.

Among the victims and survivors of the capsized boat in Greece include migrants from Egypt, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Palestine. Between 50 and 100 children were estimated to be on board the ship.

At least 209 Pakistanis were among those who lost their lives in the boat wreck off Greece last week, according to data shared by a Pakistani investigative agency.

Information provided to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) by families of missing passengers known to have boarded the boat that capsized off Greece’s coast suggests the death toll may be significantly higher than official figures.

The five members of Titan submersible include British billionaire Hamish Harding, members of Pakistan’s most prominent family Shahzada Dawood and Suleman Dawood, Paul-Henry Nargeolet, the director of the company that owns the exclusive rights to recover the artifacts from the Titanic wreck, and OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush.

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