The following post from Mole's Genealogy Blog is food for thought:
According to the sources at hand carcasses were not included in cargo discharged at Durban. However, 1000 + tons of lead, loaded to 8 ft. at 11 cubic feet to the ton might have liquefied with a similar, chilling result.
The writer acknowledges that Captain Ilbery might have elected to return to Durban due to the severity of the approaching storm and limitations of his flagship - with or without a fire on board.
Boiler fires exploding out of the funnel, causing the flashes of light witnessed by the crew of the Harlow, is plausible. Would boiler explosions have been muffled within the bowels of Waratah?
"why did a number of Senior Officers, Engineers and the Chief Steward, hastily take out life insurance policies before the Waratah left Australian waters?"
"May those unfortunate souls forever rest in peace."
My thanks to Mole and Suzanne-Jo Leff Patterson.