'Broken Line' Memorial - Atlas Obscura

'Broken Line' Memorial

A monument commemorating the 852 lives lost in the sinking of the MS Estonia. 

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This monument was erected in memory of all those who lost their lives on the MS Estonia ferry when it sank in 1994. The sinking of the Estonia is one of the deadliest peacetime sinkings of a European ship, with casualties second only to the Titanic in 1912 and the Empress of Ireland in 1914

The Estonia sank into the Baltic Sea on the morning of September 28, 1994. The ship had left Tallinn slightly behind schedule and was due to arrive in Stockholm at 9 a.m. But in the wee hours of the morning, around 1 a.m. the ship began to struggle.

Conditions were not ideal for the crossing. The cargo hold was fully loaded, but the weight was likely distributed unevenly—the ship was observed to be listing slightly to starboard. The weather during the crossing was rough, with winds of 34 to 45 miles per hour, which helped create waves of four to six meters tall.

The first sign the ship was in trouble was when a loud bang was heard. It is now thought that this was caused by a heavy wave hitting the bow doors.  About 15 minutes later, the visor is believed to have separated from the hull of the ship and torn open the loading ramp allowing water to rapidly enter the boat.

In an attempt to try and get to safety, the ship was turned to port and slowed before her four engines cut out completely. Then the ship went down.

The Estonia was carrying 989 people (803 passengers and 186 crew). Just 137 of them were rescued. Of the 852 who died in the accident, 757 of them were never found.

Designed and completed by Riho Luuse and Jaan Saar the monument is called the Broken Line. It was unveiled two years to the day after the tragedy occurred. The missing middle part of the memorial was designed to represent the sudden end of the victims’ lives.

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October 5, 2023

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