What will happen when oxygen runs out on lost Titanic sub? Experts claim CO2 levels inside 22ft vessel will act like a ‘sedative’ that suffocates the five missing adventurers in their sleep – but hypothermia could SAVE them

Rising carbon dioxide levels onboard the Titanic submersible may act as a sedative, sending the five trapped explorers to sleep,’ according to experts today.

Rescue teams are scouring the Atlantic Ocean in a race against time to locate the deep-sea Titan vessel, as oxygen levels are rapidly depleting.

Experts believe that electrical power has already been lost inside the 22-foot vessel. This means that vital scrubbers designed to filter out toxic CO2 levels in confined spaces may have already shut down.

Dr. Ken Ledez, a hyperbaric medicine specialist at Memorial University in St. John’s, Newfoundland, explained: ‘It becomes sedative; it becomes like an anesthetic gas, and you will go to sleep.’

The Titan vessel will have a carbon dioxide scrubber on board to remove excess toxic gas that accumulates when passengers exhale in the confined space, but this will be limited in most craft. Because of the low temperatures in the ocean’s depths, there is also a risk of hypothermia, as well as hyperventilation caused by panic attacks, which can deplete more valuable oxygen.

CO2 poisoning is dangerous. When too much gas enters the bloodstream, it can cause asphyxiation or hypercapnia.

Experts believe that another risk presented to the Titan sub could help it survive long enough to be rescued.

At 9.45am – an hour and 45 minutes into the dive – it lost contact with its mothership, the Polar Prince. But it wasn’t reported as missing to the US Coast Guard until 5.40pm, eight hours later. Canada’s Coast Guard wasn’t alerted until even later – 9.13pm on Sunday night.

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