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A first-hand account from a survivor of the Titanic disaster has been published for the first time.

First-class passenger Laura Francatelli, who was 31 at the time, was a secretary for baronet Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon and his wife Lady Lucy Christiana. She woke her employers when water seeped into her cabin after the ship hit an iceberg on that fateful April night in 1912.

“When we got on the top deck, the lifeboats were being lowered on the starboard side.

“I then noticed that the sea was nearer to us than during the day, and I said to Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon ‘we are sinking', and he said ‘nonsense, come away.’”

The three of them boarded one of the last lifeboats, which contained only five passengers and seven crew. Her employer paid the crewmembers £5 each (about £300 today) for saving their lives. She admitted they did not consider going back for survivors.

She described the “awful rumbling” as the doomed liner went down and “then came screams and cries” from 1,500 drowning passengers.

They rowed away, fearing that as the Titanic sank, they would be pulled under as well. “We were a long way off when we saw the Titanic go right up at the back and plunge down,” she wrote. “There was an awful rumbling when she went. Then came the screams and cries. I do not know how long they lasted.

“We had hardly any talk. The men spoke about God and prayers and wives. We were all in the darkness.”

Andrew Aldridge, of auctioneer Henry Aldridge and Son, which are selling the letter stated; “Numerous books have been written about the Titanic disaster but this is an eyewitness account written in the weeks after the sinking.”

Francatelli died in 1967.