LONDON: The captain of the Titanic may have been under the influence of alcohol when the luxury passenger liner hit an iceberg in 1912, a never-seen-before letter has suggested.
Emily Richards, a survivor has claimed having seen Titanic's Captain Edward Smith drinking in the saloon bar of the ship in the run-up to the disaster, the Sun reported.
The history books record the white-whiskered skipper attending a first class dinner party a few hours before the collision and then retiring to his cabin. He was woken up just before midnight and was last seen alive on the bridge after making the heroic decision to go down with his ship.
One of the many myths surrounding the 1912 tragedy is that the 62-year-old captain was drunk, although no evidence could be produced to support it.
However, the newly-found account of second class passenger Richards does appear to support this theory.
Her allegation comes in a letter she wrote home two days after the sinking from the rescue ship.
Richards, from Penzance, Cornwall, and her two sons survived. But her brother George was one of the 1,522 people who perished.
In a letter to her mother-in-law, Richards wrote: "The boat struck an iceberg at 11 o'clock on Sunday night.
"The Captain was down in the saloon drinking and gave charge to someone else to steer the ship.
"It was the Captain's fault. My poor brother George... drowned as far as we know now."