A missing submersible’s air is running out
An international team of rescuers was racing against time to find a deep-diving submersible with five people on board after it lost contact in the North Atlantic during a tour to explore the wreck of the Titanic.
The submersible, the Titan, is thought to be equipped with less than two days’ worth of oxygen, and as of 1 p.m. Eastern time yesterday, there was probably about 40 hours of breathable air left, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
Contact with the Titan was lost on Sunday more than halfway into what should have been a two-and-a-half-hour dive. The five people on board are Hamish Harding, a British businessman and explorer; Shahzada Dawood, a British-Pakistani businessman and explorer, and his son, Suleman; and Paul-Henri Nargeolet, a French maritime expert who has been on over 35 dives to the Titanic wreck site. Stockton Rush, the chief executive of OceanGate Expeditions, was piloting the submersible, according to the company.
The search for the Titan faces a series of obstacles, and even if it can be found, retrieving it will not be easy. The search area lies more than two miles below the surface, with pressure equal to being beneath a 100-story tower of solid lead.
Dangerous tourism: OceanGate Expeditions has provided tours of the Titanic wreck since 2021 for a price of up to $250,000 per person, as part of a booming high-risk travel industry. Leaders in the submersible-vehicle industry sent a letter in 2018 to the company’s chief executive warning that “the current ‘experimental’ approach” of the company could result in “catastrophic” problems.
“There are so many things that can go wrong,” our colleague William Broad, who has been down in a similar submersible, said. “Communications can go out, as is clearly the case with the Titan submersible. The scarier, worse things are the nonelectrical mechanical breakdowns, for instance when the propellers that move the submersible around stop working.” Or, he added, if the ballast won’t drop, then you can’t get back to the surface.
Harding acknowledged in a 2021 interview that he had taken on deep-sea missions in the past knowing that rescue would not be an option. “If something goes wrong, you are not coming back,” he said.
A shake-up at Alibaba
The Chinese tech giant’s chairman and chief executive, Daniel Zhang, will leave his post, Alibaba announced yesterday. Two long-serving executives will take over the top positions, while Zhang will serve only as chief executive of the company’s cloud computing division.
The reshuffle comes at a critical time, as the company splits into six units. Alibaba was the highest-profile target of a crackdown by Beijing on the power of China’s biggest tech companies.
Joseph Tsai, an Alibaba veteran, will take over as chairman. Eddie Yongming Wu, who like Tsai is an Alibaba co-founder, will become chief executive.
“The trusted team, the old guard, is back in control,” said the chairman of an investment advisory firm in Beijing.
Finance: China’s central bank cut key interest rates yesterday, a clear sign of concern in the Chinese government and corporate sector that the country’s economy is stalling.
The men — Michael McMahon, a retired New York police officer, Zhu Yong and Zheng Congying — were also found guilty of acting as unregistered foreign agents, and Zhu was convicted on a second conspiracy charge.
Prosecutors said the men were key to a plot to force the former official, Xu Jin, to return to China, where he could have faced the death penalty on an embezzlement charge.
Prosecutors accused the men of playing roles in Operation Fox Hunt, which the Justice Department contends is part of Beijing’s attempt to control Chinese nationals around the world.
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That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. — Justin and Amelia
P.S. Jonah Markowitz wrote about his two-year experience taking pictures in a Brooklyn neighborhood known as “Little Bangladesh.”
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