Saturday, January 14, 2012

Costa Concordia Runs Aground Off Italian Coast, Capsizes and Casaulties Reported

The video and photos coming in from the Italian coast are remarkable. A luxury cruise ship, the Costa Concordia, capsized after running aground, and there are at least three people dead with dozens missing. Divers are going through the ship looking for survivors and casualties.

How could the ship have possibly run aground when the ship has the latest in navigation and sonar gear that should prevent this kind of accident? Those questions will require investigations, but the more imminent question is how could the crew have done such a poor job in getting everyone off the ship safely.
The ANSA news agency, quoting the prefect’s office in the province of Grosseto, reported that the authorities have accounted for 4,165 of the 4,234 people who had boarded the liner.

By morning Saturday, the ship was lying virtually flat off Giglio’s coast, its starboard side submerged.

Passengers complained that the crew failed to give instructions on how to evacuate and once the emergency became clear, delayed lowering the lifeboats until the ship was listing too heavily for many of the boats to be released. An evacuation drill was only scheduled for Saturday afternoon, even though some passengers had already been on board for several days.

Helicopters plucked to safety some 50 people who were trapped on the ship, some survivors were rescued by boats in the area, and an official said some people jumped from the ship. Coast guard rescuers were continuing to search the ship.

“It was so unorganized, our evacuation drill was scheduled for 5 p.m.,” said Melissa Goduti, 28, of Wallingford, Conn., who had set out on the cruise of the Mediterranean hours earlier. “We had joked ‘What if something had happened today?’ ”

Another passenger, said Valerie Ananias, said, “Have you seen ‘Titanic?’ That’s exactly what it was.” Ms. Ananias, a 31-year-old teacher from Los Angeles, was traveling with her sister and parents on the first of two cruises around the Mediterranean. They all had dark red bruises on their knees from crawling along hallways and stairwells that were nearly vertical, trying to reach rescue boats.

“We were crawling up a hallway, in the dark, with only the light from the life-vest strobe flashing,” her mother, Georgia Ananias, 61, said. “We could hear plates and dishes crashing, people slamming against walls.”

She choked up as she recounted the moment when an Argentine couple handed her their 3-year-old daughter, unable to keep their balance as the ship lurched to the side and the family found themselves standing on a wall.

“He said ‘take my baby,’ ” Mrs. Ananias said, covering her mouth with her hand as she teared up. “I grabbed the baby. But then I was being pushed down. I didn’t want the baby to fall down the stairs. I gave the baby back. I couldn’t hold her.

“I thought that was the end, and I thought they should be with their baby,” she said.
There were complaints by passengers that the crew didn't know how to lower the lifeboats and that as the ship listed to one side, no one knew what to do. There are also indications that safety exercises were not conducted, despite the ship being at sea for several days under the current cruise.

Fixed Headline to properly refer to the Costa Concordia; not the Contra Concordia.

No comments: