During the early hours of Sunday, April 14, 1909, little did the passengers aboard the Singapore-bound steamer, La Seyne, know that they were heading straight for the jaws of death.
La Seyne was a 2,379-ton white-hulled French vessel tasked with ferrying passengers from smaller ports to the main ports in the Far East. On that fateful night, La Seyne was on Java - Singapore service when she collided with the British India Steam Navigation Company ship Onda.
As per reports, the La Seyne sunk within two minutes of the collision taking with it 101 lives, including that of her captain, Joseph Couailhac. Those who managed to leap into the waters clung to floating debris in the hopes that they would be rescued by the crew of the Onda.
What they did not expect was to find themselves in shark-infested waters.
The Onda, which had come to a complete stop following the collision, had already lowered her boats in preparation to begin rescue operations. However, all efforts to help were delayed due to the poor nighttime conditions and the fact that the survivors were under attack by a shoal of sharks. This is an excerpt of an article published on July 13, 1913, by The Sun which describes the horrifying scene: “The first of the passengers had scarcely touched the water before a shoal of sharks was circling the scene and dragging down scores of men and women who never came up again. These facts were sworn to by dozens of eyewitnesses to the spectacle.”
Only 61 people survived the gruesome ordeal at sea and out of them, many were gravely injured from the shark attacks.