Ex-Northern Ireland Secretary attends launch of 'amazing' Titanic replica build
Former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson has heaped praise on the Chinese designers of a full-scale replica of the Titanic as the project was launched hundreds of miles from the sea.
The Labour peer's signature will apparently be cast in some of the replica's rivets, although it was not immediately clear why he was in attendance.
More than 1,500 people died in April 1912 when the Harland & Wolff-built Titanic hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean during a voyage from Southampton to New York.
Now a new version of the doomed liner is being constructed as a tourist attraction in a Chinese shipyard that normally builds nuclear submarines in the landlocked Sichuan province.
Lord Mandelson spoke to guests at Wednesday's keel-laying ceremony to mark the start of construction about how the Titanic tragedy had stories of "loyalty, bravery and self-sacrifice" among those who died, according to an unverified copy of his speech posted on the Chinese Internet.
"It's unimaginable to restore a life-size ship and sustain all the original functions... it's an amazing project," he reportedly said.
It has been suggested Lord Mandelson may have been present in his role as president of the Great Britain China Centre, which promotes ties between the two countries.
Guests who board the ship when it is finished will not only be able to experience the meticulously recreated details of the liner originally constructed in Belfast. They will also be able to experience the dubious thrill of a simulated iceberg collision.