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Deja Vu

January 7, 2013

Lost At Sea

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2012: The director of Missoni, the Italian fashion house, has vanished in a possible airplane crash off the coast of Venezuela. Vittorio Missoni was traveling to Caracas with his wife and five other guests when their small plane fell off the radar of air traffic controllers. The Missoni company has estimated annual sales of between $75 million and $100 million. CNN reports:

Venezuelan officials said search efforts to locate the small plane Vittorio Missoni and his wife were flying in were intensifying. Authorities say the plane last made contact about 10 nautical miles from shore on Friday.

“All the organizations involved will not diminish the intensity of the search and also will not discard any hypothesis that could lead us to the location of the plane,” Venezuela's air transportation ministry said in a statement Sunday.

1912: A breathless New York Times account from a Titanic survivor describes the last moments of John Jacob Astor, a financier and New York society stalwart who died as the ship slipped slowly into the icy waters of the Atlantic during the voyage from England to the United States:

“When I got there,” she said, “I found an indescribable scene. A number of the steerage men passengers had attempted to seize one of the boats, and there was a brisk revolver fire; many men fell under it. The prompt and drastic action of the officers restored order.

“There were many touching scenes as the boats put off. I saw Col. John Jacob Astor hand his young wife into a boat tenderly and then ask an office whether he might also go. When permission was refused he stepped back and coolly took out his cigarette case.

“Good bye, dearie, he called gaily, as he lighted a cigarette and leaned over the rail. I'll join you later.”
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Victor Hugo, 1862
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Lewis H. Lapham is Editor of Lapham's Quarterly. He also serves as editor emeritus and national correspondent for Harper's magazine.
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