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A year to the day after leaving Berlin on its maiden voyage across the Atlantic to the United States, the giant German "Hindenburg Zeppelin" crashed in flames as it was about to land at Lakehurst at 6:25 o'clock last night.
Aboard the airship were a crew of 61 and 39 passengers, making a total of 100. First reports said that all had died, but according to a later bulletin 64 survived.
Between May 6 and October 15 last year the Zeppelin made ten round trips between Frankfort and Lakehurst. The fastest westbound trip was made in 52.8 hours and the fastest eastbound in 42.8 hours. On none of the trips was there any trouble.
The cause of the disaster remains in doubt. Smoking was permitted in an asbestos lined smoking room, at the door of which a steward always stood to watch outgoing passengers. But the fire apparently started in the stern, indicating the possibility of a short circuit. Since the ship only contained helium near the passenger's compartment, all the rest being hydrogen, any fire would be impossible to control. The ship had passed through an electrical storm over New York.
Before the "Hindenburg" was completed, Hugo Eckner, father of the modern Zeppelin, urged that helium be used throughout, but he was outvoted.
The "Hindenburg" was the largest airship ever built, being 811 feet in length and having a gas volume of 7,063,0000 cubic feet. Its weight was 200 tons. The American ships "Akron" and "Macon" were both 785 feet long. The "Akron" crashed in a storm off New Jersey in 1933, causing the death of 73 people. The "Macon" fell off California in 1935, only losing 2 lives.
Other airship disasters and fatalities have been: the French "Dixmude" in 1923, 52; the U.S.S. "Shenandoah" in 1925, 14; the "Italia", lost in the Arctic in 1928 with Commander Nobile and seven others; the British R-101 in 1930, 46; Its sister ship, the R-100, was dismantled. The "Roma" crashed in Virginia in 1932 with the loss of 34 lives.
The two remaining ships are the "Los Angeles", which has not been used for several years, and the "Graf Zeppelin", which has circled the globe and made over 100 trips between Rio de Janeiro and Friedrichshafen.
She was due to leave last night carrying passengers for the Coronation.
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