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Andrea Doria site claims more victims

Jan 1, 2003

The so-called "Mount Everest of extreme diving," the wreck of the Italian transatlantic liner Andrea Doria, recently claimed the lives of three more divers.

In three separate incidents between June and August, divers failed one of the sport's most challenging and sought-after trophies: conquering the wreck of Andrea Doria, which lies in 200 feet of water about 45 miles southeast of Nantucket.

"The Andrea Doria is a very attractive prize for technical divers," said Dr. Peter Bennett, founder and president of the Divers Alert Network. Technical diving is differentiated from recreational diving because of the need to breathe mixed gases (helium, nitrogen, oxygen) at these greater depths. Diving up to 130 feet with compressed air only is considered the limit of recreational diving. "These guys are working on the thin edge of the safety envelope," said Bennett, adding that diving this wreck is parallel to climbing Everest, a trophy that is also strewn with the bodies of those who attempted the feat and failed. Divers on Andrea Doria, who often seek to recover artifacts that litter the inside of the giant hull, are typically disoriented in the wreck when visibility is impaired by silt, according to Bennett. Ten people have died at this site since 1993, according to reportsfewer than 50 people dive the wreck each year.

The celebrated 630-foot Italian ocean liner sank in 1956 after collision with the 525-foot Swedish liner Stockholm. The two vessels were making full steam in heavy fog. Stockholm t-boned Andrea Doria directly amidships, an impact that killed 43 people instantly.