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Black granite memorial stone in Southwark Cathedral, London
Memorial stone in Southwark Cathedral

The Marchioness disaster was a collision between two vessels on the River Thames in London in the early hours of 20 August 1989 that resulted in the deaths of 51 people. The pleasure steamer Marchioness, with about 130 people on board, sank after being hit twice by the dredger Bowbelle. The Marine Accident Investigation Branch blamed a lack of lookouts, but it was criticised by the families of the victims for failing to interview anyone on Marchioness or Bowbelle. A formal inquiry was finally held in 2000; its report concluded that "The basic cause of the collision is clear. It was poor lookout on both vessels. Neither vessel saw the other in time to take action to avoid the collision." Further criticism was aimed at the owners of both ships, at the Department for Transport and at the Port of London Authority. The collision and the subsequent reports led to increased safety measures on the Thames, and four new lifeboat stations were installed on the river. (Full article...)