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  • Writer's pictureLinda A Cowdrick

700 Presumed Dead on July 4

It is 1904 on July 4 and it is reported in London that over 700 Danish and Norwegian immigrants, out of 800 total, bound for New York have drowned in the north Atlantic, June 28 on the Danish steamer Norge. The Norge struck a rock off the Hebrides and sank. The British steamer Cervona saved many of the survivors who were found mostly naked. One of the survivors was sadly holding a child that had drowned. Additional survivors were saved by the German steamer Energic.

Some of the seaman sacrificed their lived to save women and children aboard. 5 boats were filled with passengers, however only two were able to get away.

There was only one survivor who spoke English. This is his account of the tragic accident:

"I was lying in my bunk waiting for breakfast. I had got up previously and washed. We heard a slight bump, followed directly afterward by another bump. I rushed on deck and saw that something serous had happened. I made a dash to return in order to collect my few belongings. Scores were rushing on deck, and the hatchway was drowned with emigrants. The were launching boats, and I rushed to get into one. There was no panic. There were four or five people in the boat when I got in. We got clear of the ship. Fortunately our party included the only seaman of the Norge who was saved, and he was able to navigate our little boat. We saw two other boats capsize owing to the heavy weather and because nobody could navigate them. We made straight away, and after twenty-four hours the Silvia bore down and picked us up. dozens of people who jumped into the sea with lifebelts were drowned before our eyes. About 700 people must have drowned."

Survivors said the Captain of the ship, Captain Gundel, stood on the bridge of the doomed vessel until it could no longer be seen.

One surviver, Peter Nelson, said his boat rowed with another boat but the tide separated them and he never saw the other boat again.

A. E. Johnson & Co, located at 7 Broadway in New York City were the agents of the Scandinavian-American Line which the Norge was part of. Alexander E. Johnson, principal of the firm was asked to comment on the disaster. However, he was away at Long Branch. A man who represented him said they had not heard of the disaster.

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