fog.png
Wednesday May 25th, 2022 1:09PM

10 years later, Costa Concordia disaster vivid for survivors

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

GIGLIO, Italy (AP) — Ten years have passed since the Costa Concordia cruise ship slammed into a reef and capsized off the Tuscan island of Giglio. But for the passengers on board and the residents who welcomed them ashore, the memories of that harrowing, freezing night remain vividly etched into their minds.

The dinner plates that flew off the tables when the rocks first gashed the hull. The blackout after the ship's engine room flooded and its generators failed. The final mad scramble to evacuate the listing liner and then the extraordinary generosity of Giglio islanders who offered shoes, sweatshirts and shelter until the sun rose and passengers were ferried to the mainland.

Italy on Thursday is marking the 10th anniversary of the Concordia disaster with a daylong commemoration that will end with a candlelit vigil near the moment the ship hit the reef: 9:45 p.m. on Jan. 13, 2012. The events will honor the 32 people who died that night, the 4,200 survivors, but also the residents of Giglio, who took in passengers and crew and then lived with the Concordia's wrecked carcass off their shore for another two years until it was righted and hauled away for scrap.

“For us islanders, when we remember some event, we always refer to whether it was before or after the Concordia,” said Matteo Coppa, who was 23 and fishing on the jetty when the darkened Concordia listed toward shore and then collapsed onto its side in the water.

“I imagine it like a nail stuck to the wall that marks that date, as a before and after,” he said, recounting how he joined the rescue effort that night, helping pull ashore the dazed, injured and freezing passengers from lifeboats.

The sad anniversary comes as the cruise industry, shut down in much of the world for months because of the coronavirus pandemic, is once again in the spotlight because of COVID-19 outbreaks that threaten passenger safety. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control last month warned people across-the-board not to go on cruises, regardless of their vaccination status, because of the risks of infection.

For Concordia survivor Georgia Ananias, the COVID-19 infections are just the latest evidence that passenger safety still isn’t a top priority for the cruise ship industry. Passengers aboard the Concordia were largely left on their own to find life jackets and a functioning lifeboat after the captain steered the ship close too shore in a stunt. He then delayed an evacuation order until it was too late, with lifeboats unable to lower because the ship was listing too heavily.

“I always said this will not define me, but you have no choice," Ananias said in an interview from her home in Los Angeles, Calif. “We all suffer from PTSD. We had a lot of guilt that we survived and 32 other people died.”

Prosecutors blamed the delayed evacuation order and conflicting instructions given by crew for the chaos that ensued as passengers scrambled to get off the ship. The captain, Francesco Schettino, is serving a 16-year prison sentence for manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning a ship before all the passengers and crew had evacuated.

Ananias and her family declined Costa’s initial $14,500 compensation offered to each passenger and sued Costa, a unit of U.S.-based Carnival Corp., to try to cover the cost of their medical bills and therapy for the post-traumatic stress they have suffered. But after eight years in the U.S. and then Italian court system, they lost their case.

“I think people need to be aware that when you go on a cruise, that if there is a problem, you will not have the justice that you may be used to in the country in which you are living,” said Ananias, who went onto become a top official in the International Cruise Victims association, an advocacy group that lobbies to improve safety aboard ships and increase transparency and accountability in the industry.

Costa didn’t respond to emails seeking comment on the anniversary.

Cruise Lines International Association, the world’s largest cruise industry trade association, stressed in a statement to The Associated Press that passenger and crew safety was the industry's top priority, and that cruising remains one of the safest vacation experiences available.

“Our thoughts continue to be with the victims of the Concordia tragedy and their families on this sad anniversary," CLIA said. It said it has worked over the past 10 years with the International Maritime Organization and the maritime industry to “drive a safety culture that is based on continuous improvement."

For Giglio Mayor Sergio Ortelli, the memories of that night run the gamut: the horror of seeing the capsized ship, the scramble to coordinate rescue services on shore, the recovery of the first bodies and then the pride that islanders rose to the occasion to tend to the survivors.

Ortelli was later on hand when, in September 2013, the 115,000-ton, 300-meter (1,000-foot) long cruise ship was righted vertical off its seabed graveyard in an extraordinary feat of engineering. But the night of the disaster, a Friday the 13th, remains seared in his memory.

“It was a night that, in addition to being a tragedy, had a beautiful side because the response of the people was a spontaneous gesture that was appreciated around the world,” Ortelli said.

It seemed the natural thing to do at the time. “But then we realized that on that night, in just a few hours, we did something incredible.”

___

Winfield reported from Rome.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP World News, AP Business
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
'Legendary leader' Harry Reid lies in state at US Capitol
The late Sen. Harry Reid is being remembered at the U.S. Capitol
1:20PM ( 15 minutes ago )
After Kazakhstan unrest, relatives await detainees' release
With life in Kazakhstan's largest city starting to return to normal after anti-government protests turned violent, relatives of the thousands arrested in the unrest are seeking to learn the fate of their loved ones
1:20PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Army ups bonuses for recruits to $50K, as COVID takes toll
The U.S. Army, for the first time, is offering a maximum enlistment bonus of $50,000 to highly skilled recruits who sign up for six years
1:19PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Djokovic acknowledges error on Australian travel declaration
Novak Djokovic has acknowledged that his Australian travel declaration form contained incorrect information, and he also confessed to an “error of judgment” in taking part in an interview and photo shoot in Serbia last month after testing positive for COVID-19
12:48PM ( 47 minutes ago )
Berlin Film Festival taking place in person despite pandemic
The Berlin International Film Festival is going to take place next month in person despite rising virus numbers in Germany, especially in the capital
12:48PM ( 48 minutes ago )
10 years later, Costa Concordia disaster vivid for survivors
Italy is marking the 10th anniversary of the Costa Concordia disaster with a daylong commemoration on Thursday
12:20PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP World News
Biden redoubling focus on testing amid shortages, confusion
The Biden administration is increasing federal support for COVID-19 testing for schools in a bid to keep them open amid the omicron surge
12:33PM ( 1 hour ago )
Stocks rise as inflation report keeps rate hikes on track
Stocks eased off of early gains, but still edged higher in midday trading on Wall Street Wednesday after the latest report of surging prices appeared to keep the Federal Reserve on track to raise interest rates later this year
11:45AM ( 1 hour ago )
Former Senate leader Harry Reid lies in state at Capitol
The casket of former Sen. Harry Reid is lying in state at the U.S. Capitol as colleagues and friends gather to pay tribute to a hardscrabble Democrat who served five terms in the Senate and rose to be majority leader
11:04AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
'Legendary leader' Harry Reid lies in state at US Capitol
The late Sen. Harry Reid is being remembered at the U.S. Capitol
1:20PM ( 15 minutes ago )
After Kazakhstan unrest, relatives await detainees' release
With life in Kazakhstan's largest city starting to return to normal after anti-government protests turned violent, relatives of the thousands arrested in the unrest are seeking to learn the fate of their loved ones
1:20PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Army ups bonuses for recruits to $50K, as COVID takes toll
The U.S. Army, for the first time, is offering a maximum enlistment bonus of $50,000 to highly skilled recruits who sign up for six years
1:19PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Democrats push rival bill sanctioning Russia over Ukraine
Senate Democrats are proposing new sanctions against Russia if it invades Ukraine
1:11PM ( 24 minutes ago )
Man charged with giving Olympic athletes performance drugs
Federal prosecutors have charged a Texas man with providing performance-enhancing drugs to athletes competing in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, including the star Nigerian sprinter Blessing Okagbare
1:09PM ( 27 minutes ago )