Story by Martin Robinson, Chief Reporter For Mailonline:Last hope for Titanic five as rescue mission enters final hours: French vessel carrying deep-sea diving robot reaches search zone with missing sub's oxygen supply running out at 12.08pm (7.08am EST) - as map shows ships scrambling to site to join frantic hunt.
A French ship viewed as the last hope of finding the missing Titanic submersible has crossed the Atlantic and is at the search zone ready to drop its remote-controlled sub to find five missing adventurers - but their oxygen is expected to run out at Midday today.
The vanished vessel, Titan, lost communication with tour operators on Sunday while about 435 miles south of St John's, Newfoundland, during a voyage to the Titanic off the coast of Canada. The last 'ping' of its homing device was heard on Sunday afternoon - directly above the world's most famous seawreck. A countdown has now begun with the vital oxygen supply expected to run out at 12.08pm GMT (7.08am EST and 9.08pm Sydney) with a 'miracle' now needed to find it in time as banging every 30 minutes is still being heard from the depths but has not been located.
French research vessel L'Atalante arrived in the search zone at around 2am GMT (10pm EST, midday Sydney). It is carrying the Victor 6000 - an unmanned remote controlled robot sub that can reach depths of 20,000ft and will arrive at the Titanic's wreck at 12,500ft around two hours after entering the water. It has arms that can cut cables - or dislodge a trapped or stranded vessel - and may be able to fix a cable onto the sub before it is hauled several miles to the surface by a giant winch called a Flyaway Deep Ocean Salvage System. One of these is believed to be on a ship called the Horizon Arctic, which left Newfoundland yesterday and is racing to the area but will not arrive until later today. Those stuck onboard, dubbed the Titan Five, include British billionaire Hamish Harding, OceanGate CEO Stockton Rush, French navy veteran PH Nargeolet and Pakistani businessman Shahzada Dawood and his son Suleman, who is just 19. Mr Nargeolet, who has visited the Titanic 35 times - more than any other person - is viewed as the only man on board with the skills and experience to either help rescuers find them or free the Titan if it is stuck on the seabed. Above the Titanic is a flotilla of at least ten ships, two robot subs and several aircraft scanning the Atlantic for any sign of Titan as sonar continues to hear a banging noise from the depths. But the Coastguard has admitted it does not know if it is the five men hammering on the side of their sub or simply the sound of the sea including perhaps debris falling from the Titanic itself at 12,500ft below the surface. But even if it is discovered it will take many hours to save Titan - meaning that the oxygen could run out before they get to the surface.
Rescue efforts to find them have continued overnight - and are becoming ever more desperate - with just hours to pinpoint 'banging' from the deep and save them. Oisin Fanning has been on board the Titan sub twice.
He told BBC Breakfast this morning: 'There are no noises down there. There are no noises on the Titanic - no banging, no nothing. So the likelihood is that it is someone tapping every 30 minutes to indicate where they are'. Oceanographer and water search expert Dr David Gallo said today: 'It’s going to be almost impossible. We need a miracle — but miracles do happen'. But former Royal Navy Officer, Chris Parry, said as Midday approached: 'I’m afraid time’s up - I don’t think there’s any prospect of getting those people out alive now'.
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