10 years later, Costa Concordia disaster vivid for survivors

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Italy celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster with a day of commemoration on Thursday

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GIGLIO, Italy – Ten years have passed since the Costa Concordia cruise ship struck a cliff 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 painful, cold night are etched alive in their minds.

Food plates that flew off the table when rocks first shattered the hull. A blackout occurred after the ship’s engine room was flooded and its generators failed. The final insane scramble to clear the listing liner and then the extraordinary generosity of the Giglio islanders who offered boots, sweatshirts and shelter until the sun rose and passengers were escorted to the mainland.

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Italy is marking the 10th anniversary of the Concordia disaster on Thursday with a day of commemoration that will end by candlelight when the ship hits a reef: January 13, 2012 at 9:45 pm. The program will honor 32 people. Of those who died that night, 4,200 survived, but also the residents of Giglio, who carried passengers and crew and then lived with the wreckage of the Concordia off its coast for two years until it was repaired and scrapped. was taken away.

“For us islanders, when we remember an event, we always refer to whether it was before or after Concordia,” said Matteo Coppa, who was 23 years old and was fishing at the pier when Darkness was listed on the Concordia shore and then fell on its side. in water.

“I imagine it’s like a nail sticking out of the wall, marking that date before and after,” he said, explaining how he joined the rescue effort that night, from lifeboats Helped rescue passengers from the stunned, injured and cold.

The sad anniversary comes as the cruise industry, which has been closed for months in most parts of the world due to the coronavirus pandemic, is once again in the limelight due to the COVID-19 outbreak threatening passenger safety. The US Centers for Disease Control last month warned people not to go on cruises regardless of vaccination status because of the risk of infection.

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

“I always said it wouldn’t define me, but you don’t have a choice,” Ananya said in an interview from her home in Los Angeles, California. “We all suffer from PTSD. We had so much guilt that we survived and 32 others died.”

Prosecutors blamed the delayed evacuation order and conflicting instructions given by the crew for the chaos caused by the passengers’ scramble to disembark from the ship. The captain, Francesco Scitino, is serving a 16-year prison sentence for murder, which caused a shipwreck and abandoned a ship before all passengers and crew could be evacuated.

Ananya and her family denied Costa’s initial $14,500 compensation paid to each passenger and sued Costa, a unit of US-based Carnival Corp, to try to cover the cost of their medical bills. Can you But after eight years in the court system of America and then Italy, he lost his case.

“I think people need to be aware that when you go on a cruise, that if there is a problem, you will not get justice in the country you are living in,” Ananya said. To become a top official in the International Cruise Victims Association, an advocacy group that advocates improving safety on ships and increasing transparency and accountability in the industry.

Costa did not respond to an email seeking comment on the anniversary.

The 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 is one of the safest vacation experiences available. is one.

“On this tragic anniversary, our thoughts are with the victims of the Concordia tragedy and their families,” the CLIA said. It said it has worked with the International Maritime Organization and the maritime industry over the past 10 years to “drive a safety culture.” which is based on continuous improvement.”

For Sergio Ortelli, the mayor of Giglio, the memories of that night run the gamut: the horror of seeing a sunken ship, the scramble to coordinate rescue services ashore, first the recovery of bodies and then the pride that the islanders feel. reached the occasion. to the survivors.

Ortelli was on hand later when, in September 2013, the 115,000-ton, 300-metre (1,000 ft) long cruise ship was towed vertically right from its marine graveyard in an extraordinary feat of engineering. But the night of the disaster, Friday the 13th, remains in his memory.

“It was a night that, apart from being a tragedy, had a beautiful side because the reaction of the people was a spontaneous gesture that was appreciated around the world,” Ortelli said.

At that time it seemed natural to do so. “But then we realized that that night, in just a few hours, we did something incredible.”


Winfield reported from Rome.


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