Americans Aboard Costa Concordia: Costa Concordia Capsizes – Three Dead Dozens Missing

The stuff of holiday nightmares. After only two hours of leaving port, the huge 13-deck Costa Concordia ran aground off the coast of Tuscany at Giglio Island, listed and rested on it’s side, with lifeboats unable or struggling to launch. At least sixty nine persons are believed to be missing. Three Six are dead (confirmed). Forty-two hundred passengers made it to safety. I see headlines saying 129 Americans were passengers but see no actual confirming news links. The 850-foot-long ship is owned by Costa Cruise (Carnival Line is involved as well) and built in Italy. Rescue efforts are still underway. I’ll have updates when available.

UPDATE 1-28-12 @ 11:30 am CDT: A 17th body was discovered today aboard the partially sunken Costa Concordia. Eight Fourteen of the 17 dead have been officially identified, although I don’t see the names in print, other than the musician mentioned below. Americans Gerald and Barbara Heil remain among the missing, with a total of fifteen not found, but unregistered passengers are believed to have been onboard – an unknown number. What a way to run a ship!

UPDATE 1-22-12 @ 6:20 pm CDT: Schettino says the recovered black box from the ship had not been working for more than a week, and that he reported the condition to the cruise line.

Schettino was seen with a laptop after he reached shore. No one knows how he held onto it after “slipping and falling into a lifeboat.” That laptop is now missing and the cruise line says it is not in their possession.

Apparently there were unregistered passengers aboard. No one knows quite how that works and it complicates identifying the missing.

UPDATE 1-22-12 @ 12:13 am CDT: Fox is reporting that a 13th body has been recovered, that of an unidentified woman. Fox News’ Amy Kellogg reports Captain Schettino has said the Costa Cruise Line (Carnival) knew and approved of the ‘practice’ of taking the ship close into the Gilio coast as a PR stunt (blowing the horn), and known as a “slow salute.” Costa says they did not know of the practice.

UPDATE 1-21-12 @ 11:06 pm CDT: This Saturday morning in Italy, a twelth body was found on the ship. The woman’s identity is not known, and families of missing are awaiting DNA testing. Twenty persons are now among the missing.

Yesterday, the rescue search was abandoned after the ship slipped deeper into the water, but was later re-instituted. Italy’s Civilian Protection Agency has taken charge of all search and rescue missions.

The agency’s head, Franco Gabrielli, said he had asked a technical committee for a fresh analysis of the “incredibly complex” situation at the doomed ship, holding 2,380 tonnes of fuel oil that could cause an environmental disaster.

“We have put no time limit on the search. We hope to combine the rescue mission with the removal of the oil but will wait for the findings before taking a decision,” he said. The committee is to report by the end of Sunday.

“We are also drawing up maps which will trace the last known movements of the missing people, based on eye-witness testimonies, in the hope that searching specific zones might speed up the search,” he said.

Gabrielli said he had also called for a medical opinion on how long it would be possible for someone to survive inside the toppled boat, where dangerous conditions were drastically slowing the search.

“You cannot just open each cabin door and say ‘is anyone there?’ Some doors are jammed and if the divers opened them from below, they would be crushed by large pieces of loose furniture inside,” he said.

The cabins under the waterline of the vast 17-deck Costa Concordia were being searched with micro-cameras, he said, adding that “each search takes 45 minutes.”

The navy on Saturday blew new holes into the side of the luxury liner to search areas where panicked people may have gathered after the order to abandon ship, but authorities said the chance of finding someone alive was dwindling.

Lawsuits underway:

Italy’s consumer association Codacons and two US law firms told the BBC they would file the suit against Costa Cruises on behalf of the passengers.

They want at least $160,000 (£105,000) for each passenger on the ship.

Giving weight to legal action is a video of the crew instructing passengers to go back to their rooms – “everything’s under control.” It appears the crew was told to make these announcements.

This morning, Americans Gerald and Barbara Heil remain among the missing.

UPDATE 1-18-12 @ 10:43 pm CDT: The death toll still stands at 8

One of the bodies recovered yesterday was a violinist performing on the ship, Sandor Feher, 38, of Hungarian nationality. Passengers said he worked to try to get children into life boats, then went to his cabin to retrive his violin.

Captain Schettino says he didn’t abandon ship. He fell off of the ship into a life boat. He didn’t mention that little detail to the Coast Guard Captain. The conversation between Schettino and the Coast Guard Captain is below. The GC believes Schettino DID NOT  reboard the ship after direct orders to do so.

A discussion on Fox News today said the Costa Concordia is the size of one of the downed World Trade Center Buildings.

UPDATE 1-17-12 @ 9:45 am CDT: Today 5 more bodies were discovered in the wreckage. Americans Gerald and Barbara Heil from White Bear Lake, Minnesota are still among the missing, unless they are among the five found today. With today’s missing recovered, the count now stands at 24 missing.

Authorities are saying it is still possible to be alive on the vessel, surviving in an air pocket but hypothermia is a huge threat in the cold waters. Those with a life vest and a still operating battery-powered light will have a better chance.

The Telegraph supplied the audio of the ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino. Disgraceful:

SCHETTINO: The ship, at this moment…

COAST GUARD: Captain, speak louder. Hello. This is De Falco from Livorno. Am I speaking with the Captain?

SCHETTINO: Yes, good evening.

COAST GUARD: Please tell me your name.

SCHETTINO: Franscesco Schettino

COAST GUARD: Schettino? [Yes] Listen Schettino, there are people trapped on board. Now listen,  you need to go to your life boat. Under the bow of the ship on the side, there is a ladder. You need to climb up the ladder and board the ship. Get onboard and tell me how many people there are. Is that clear?

SCHETTINO: Let me tell you one thing…[inaudible]. The ship, at this moment…

COAST GUARD: Captain, speak louder. Shield your microphone with your hand and speak louder.

SCHETTINO: So, at this moment the ship is tilted.

COAST GUARD: I understand. Listen, there are people coming down the ladder on the bow. Go back in the opposite direction, get back on the ship and tell me how many people are there, and what they have onboard. Clear? Tell me if there are women and children and what kind of help they need.

Look Schettino, perhaps you saved yourself from the sea, but I will make you look very bad. I will make you pay for this. Get back onboard, dammit!

SCHETTINO: Please.

COAST GUARD: There is no ‘please’ about it. Go back onboard and assure me…

SCHETTINO: I am in a life board under the ship. I haven’t gone anywhere. I am here.

COAST GUARD: What are you doing?

SCHETTINO: I am coordinating…

COAST GUARD: Get onboard and coordinate the…tell me why you are not going.

SCHETTINO: No, no…

COAST GUARD: Are you refusing to go onboard? Tellme the reason yo are refusing.

SCHETTINO: I’m not going because there is another life boat that has stopped.

COAST GUARD: Get onboard. This is an order. You called the evacuation, now I am in charge. You need to go aboard the ship. Is this clear?

SCHETTINO: I’m going

COAST GUARD: Call me when you are aboard. My air rescue team is ther. He is at the bow. Get going. There are already corpses, Schettino.

SCHETTINO: How many dead are there?

COAST GUARD: I don’t know. One I know of. Get going.

SCHETTINO: But you are aware it is dark? We can’t see anything.

COAST GUARD: And what do you want? To go back home? It’s dark and you want to go back home? Get on the bow of the ship and tell me how many people there are what do they need.

SCHETTINO: I am here with the 2nd Commander. His name is…

COAST GUARD: So both of you! Get onboard.

SCHETTINO: I want to get onboard but the second life boat has stopped it’s engine, and it’s drifting and I called other rescuers.

COAST GUARD: It is already one hour and you are telling this. Get onboard and tell me how many people are there.

SCHETTINO: Okay. [the end of audio] [Thanks to the Telegraph. Read more there]

 

Audio of Coast Guard talking to Fransceco Schettino, the Captain of the Costa Concordia (video)
 

UPDATE 1-16-12 @ 4:11 pm CDT: Terrible news. Just 15 minutes ago Newsday quoted Italian Coast Guard officials saying the number of missing has risen from 17 to 29, 25 passengers and 4 crew members.

But at least three Italian families have said that even though their loved ones have been listed among those safely evacuated, they hadn’t heard any word from their relatives.

Brusco indicated about 10 Germans were among the 29 missing. He says he holds a “glimmer of hope” that some of the missing might have survived.

Fox News has reported that the Costa Concordia has begun sinking further into the waters, creating a very dangerous situation for rescuers attempting to search the ship for the missing. Severe weather in the region is expected by Thursday which will likely take the ship to the bottom if it’s not already there.

Fears also that fuel from the huge vessel will leak into the pristine waters of the Tuscan coast.

From the Newsday article linked above, more about the Captain:

The Italian cruise operator said Capt. Francesco Schettino made an unauthorized deviation that caused the ship to crash late Friday into a reef off the tiny island of Giglio and capsize a few kilometers (miles) away near port.

The navigational “fly by” of Giglio was apparently made as a favor to the chief waiter who is from Giglio and whose parents live on the island, local media reported.

UPDATE 1-16-12 @ 8:36 pm CDT: Today, news of two or four missing Americans is still unclear, but I think two are missing from the U.S., not four. The U.S. Embassy in Rome says 120 Americans were aboard and two are still missing – Gerald and Barbara Heil from White Bear Lake, Minnesota.

A French passenger says today it took “an hour before the first alert went out.” He also said the light on his life vest did not work. While the Captain of the ship may face multiple manslaughter/homicide charges, a crew member says the crew was heroic:

“We saved between 500 and 600 people. I made a dozen trips with the lifeboat, it was cold and windy,” Colombian crewman Edgard Lopez Sanchez told AFP.

“We are the heroes — the Colombians, the Hondurans, the Chinese, the crew made up of 20 nationalities,” he said.

Ship Captain, Francesco Schettino, was seen ‘drinking in the bar with a beautiful woman’ before abandoning ship hours before passengers (headline from DailyMail). Schettino is now known as ‘Captain Coward.’

Bad weather is expected on Thursday and there are fears that the ship will sink completely.

A passenger (DailyMail link above):

‘Most people didn’t even have any idea of what the evacuation warning sound would be.

‘It was only because some of us had already been on a cruise that we recognised that seven blasts of the horn was a signal to abandon ship.’

The cruise line has said the ship was not where it should have been in the waters of Giglio Island. This is new:

Italian investigators are working on the theory that the £390million vessel sailed close to the island of Giglio to greet an officer from the Italian merchant navy who was friendly with those on the Concordia.

Reports in Italy said that investigators had identified the man on shore and he would be questioned as part of the inquiry into the incident.

Last August the vessel passed close to the island sounding its whistle – prompting the mayor to send a congratulatory email to the captain for providing such a ‘spectacle to tourists’ and ‘fantastic entertainment’.

UPDATE 1-15-12 @ 9:35 pm CDT: Fox is reporting that when the rescue operations shut down due to lack of daylight tonight in Italy, about 17 persons are still missing, two of whom are Americans. A couple from White Bear Lake, Minnesota is among the missing, however the family of another couple says their parents are also still among the missing – which would make four Americans still not located:

A couple from White Bear Lake, Minn. is among those missing from the Costa Concordia cruise ship that crashed and tipped over off the Italian coast, according to family members.

The American Embassy in Rome has said 118 of the 120 Americans aboard the Costa Concordia have been accounted for, CBS Station WCCO reports.

But Sarah Heil told CBS Station WBBM the American embassy in Rome has confirmed her parents, Gerald and Barbara Heil, are still missing. CBS

The couple from Minnesota are unidentified (please see the update at 9:37 am, 1-16-12 above for a correction).

UPDATE 1-15-12 @ 9:40 am CDT: Fox has just reported two more have been found dead aboard the ship. This brings the number of dead to five, if accurate.

UPDATE 1-15-12 @ 9:20 am CDT: Three survivors were found alive inside the ship on Deck 3, some 24 hours after the emergency began. This morning, the number of missing has been lowered to 17. According to the BBC, the number of dead remains at three. The ships Captain has been arrested, and the First Officer detained.

The ship’s operator, Costa Crociere, said the vessel had been following its regular course when it hit a submerged rock.

Captain Francesco Schettino insisted he had been last to leave the ship, and said the rock was not marked on his nautical chart.

“It indicated that there was water deep below,” he told Italian TV. “There shouldn’t have been such a rock.”

Two of the survivors found aboard the ship were a couple on their honeymoon from South Korea and an injured crew member. The honeymooning couple were uninjured.

The dead are two French nationals and a Peruvian crew member. There are still many stories of an inept crew, and a few of acts of heroism.

At this time, the latest reports of injured passengers is 60.

This report says passengers could actually see the rock that ripped open the bottom of the vessel.

UPDATE 4:20 pm CDT: Fox can only confirm three dead, but has also seen other news sources saying six have died. I still see reports that no Americans are dead, injured or missing. This article says Americans from Kentucky and Connecticut were aboard. Rescue efforts ended at dusk with about 40 persons still missing.

UPDATE 11 am CDT: Fox is still reporting three dead, although The Telegraph article linked below says six are dead. Fox also reports that no Americans are missing, injured or among the dead.

Costa Concordia

Costa Concordia

The 13 deck liner then began to take on water after hitting rocks creating a 160ft gash in the hull, near the island of Giglio, off the Tuscan coast – two weeks into the Titanic centenary year.

Costa Concordia

About 4,200 passengers and crew were evacuated but Italian officials said this afternoon 69 had not yet been accounted for, although they warned the passenger list might not be fully up-to-date. The Daily Mail – see photos.

A critical electrical failure is cited, although it is not clear whether the electrical problems contributed to, or caused, the grounding – perhaps affected steerage?

Passengers’ dinner was interrupted by a loud boom at around 8pm and a voice over the tannoy initially claimed that the ship was suffering an electrical failure, before ordering everyone on-board to don life-jackets.

“It was just like something out of the Titanic,” one woman said. “You could tell straight away that the ship had hit something and no way was it an electrical fault.’ The Telegraph

The ship left port near Rome with stops in Palermo Cagliari, Palma, Barcelona and Marseille on the schedule.

Linked at The Lonely Conservative – thank you!

Posted by Maggie @ Maggie’s Notebook

 

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  • Power outage could have affected steerage- GPS-Computers but I’d think those systems would have been backed up with aux generators and or batteries.. Even if her primary steerage (Rudders) were down the Captain would have some maneuverability using just engines.

    To early to second guess. but the Media will have a field day trying

  • VRR

    We cruise a great deal, and I am concerned about the poor physical
    shape of the cruise staff and crew. THEY LOOK INCAPABLE OF HELPING IN A DISASTER. They really look as if they would be the ones needing help! I think it’s time to demand better training and stricter personnel requirements! They also need to look sharper in uniform. An overweight person with his or her belly hanging over their belt does little to instill confidence in the staff and crew.

    • Kim

      What’s wrong with people like you? Just because someone is overweight means that they can’t do their job. I would much rather be helped by an overweight caring person that an ignorant twig.

    • Cesar

      Yeah, I really didnt get the point about the relation between body shape and instill confidence.
      D’you only trust in thin people? Such a joke…

  • People forget that boats sink. And the problem today is that both the crew and the passengers don’t listen to instructions during problems.

    I was on-board a ship (Carnival) during a life-boat drill. A few of the passengers brought their drinks and their drunken attitude. Acted as if it was a joke and let their displeasure known to all. Instead of throwing them off the boat at the next stop, they were allowed to continue with their cruise. I will never sail with that line again.

    On the other-hand, I have seen crew members take their duties in this manner very seriously. I have found LOOKS DON’T MATTER! The overweight officer you see has years if not decades at sea, and the maturity that comes with that.

    • Cesar

      Good point.
      I’ve worked at Concordia for 6 months in 2010. Before getting the job, we had whole trainning about security outside and inside the ship.
      Every crew member had his “point” during an emergency, in order to help the ship evacuation, mine was deck 9, in front of the elevator, not to allow people to use them, right by my side there was another crew member to help people to get the stairs down to deck 3 – where the lifeboats were.
      This was mandatory in every single cruise and indeed, MOST part of the passengers dont even care about it and some part of the crew as well, this was the ordinary security trainning for the passengers evacuation on the 1st cruise day, once a month we had another security trainning for us to evacuate the ship.

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  • Costa Concordia was impressive and beautiful ship, but however the collision with it was important for the whole cruise shipping. In any case we should get our answers for the disaster with the vessel and the officers to be more careful with maneuvering and navigation.