Anger & Anguish Continue One Year after Costa Concordia

NBC News has an interesting article about the continuing struggle many survivors of the Costa Concordia disaster are experiencing one year later. 

The victims' anguish has been exacerbated by the insensitivity demonstrated by Costa and parent company Carnival.  

 A memorial service for the victims will mark the anniversary tomorrow. 

 

 

The World Focuses on Giglio, But Costa Tells Victims to Stay Away

Giglio Italy - Costa ConcordiaWith the one year anniversary of the Costa Concordia capsizing this Sunday, there are literally several hundreds new articles on line about the disaster.  

This morning CBS News aired a video (below) and published an article Costa Concordia 1 Year Later: Survivors Attempt to Move On in which several survivors explain how they are dealing with the aftermath of the horrific event.

The cruise line cheerleaders are out in full force with travel writer Jane Archer of the Telegraph newspaper in London answering her own question Is Cruising Safer One Year On? and Carolyn Spencer Brown of the Expedia / TripAdvisor owned Cruise Critic fan site conducting a puff piece interview for CNN International extolling on the virtues of cruising and blaming the series of institutional failures solely on "one rogue captain."  

More critical and honest articles include  I Need a Grave to Cry Over

As the focus is now on the island of Giglio, where the Concordia capsized and remains in view as a daily reminder of the deadly disaster, Costa has done the unthinkable by writing a letter to the victims telling them that they should stay away from the island for "logistical reasons." 

Amazingly insensitive, but this has been how Costa and Carnival have operated from day one. 

As one survivor put it: "Costa has had an inhumane and unacceptable attitude from the start."

The cruise lines would prefer not to have several thousands of people standing with the wrecked cruise ship in the background, telling the world how Costa and Carnival have treated them over the last year. 

 

 

Photo credit: CNN International

Countdown to One Year Anniversary of Costa Concordia Disaster

The one year anniversary of the Costa Concordia disaster is one week away.

You will begin to see daily stories about the survivors and families whose loved ones did not survive the disaster.  There will be a wide variety of articles about how the victims are handling their lives at this point.

Some people have seemed to have largely put the terrible incident behind them. Others are struggling emotionally and physically. Some passengers settled their case and have tried to move on. Some crew members resolved their differences and are back to work with Costa on other cruise ships. Other passengers and crew are Francesco Schettino just now pursuing legal action and face a different year or two ahead of them.

Here are some of the recent stories:

29 year-old Kentucky resident Lauren Moore was sailing aboard the ill-fated cruise ship with her friends when disaster struck. She says: "It's not easy for me to forget. I remember the sounds of the screaming. I remember the feeling of the boat going over on its side."

"People being shoved, people screaming, people fighting each other for a spot to safe their life. My friend and I grabbed hands and we never let go of each other until we were safe on land."  Lauren says that she remembers the sights and sounds of the horrible events that claimed the lives of 32 people every day. she chose to accept the cruise line's settlement offer last year.  One year after the disaster, she now wants to celebrate the fact that she and her friends are alive on the one year anniversary.  You can watch a video of Lauren here

Ian and Janice Donoff of London were among the last to escape the death ship. An article in Haaretz explains that the couple are religiously observant and spent the day in Rome, returning to the ship early to prepare for Shabbat. After dinner they watched a magic show when they heard a loud bang and scrape.  Around 11:00 PM the abandon ship order was finally made resulting in panic, Janice recalled "everybody was clamoring for the lifeboats."

The Donoffs found themselves stuck in an inner section with 400 other people and only one exit. Ian recited the confessional Jewish prayer before death.  They eventually made it to an outer deck, and crawled down a rope ladder to a lifeboat. Janice broke bones in her hands and feet. On dry land they recited the "Birkat Hagomel" (the blessing of Thanksgiving ).

Costa offered 11,000 Euros in compensation for lost property, but the Donoffs did not accept the sum. They have considered suing and are currently negotiating with the company. The article states that they harbor no ill will toward Captain Schettino.

Mylene Litzler, 23 and her fiancé Mickael Blemand, 24, from France, are two of the 32 people who perished.  The Telegraph published an excellent article entitled Costa Concordia survivors: "One Year On, Our Lives Are Still in Ruins" which included comments by Mylene's father: “I absolutely want to see the commander and a part of his crew in prison for this. It has broken a whole life – ours, as well as Mickael’s parents’ and that of Mylene’s brother. Justice needs to be done.”   

British victims, Rose Metcalf Amelia Leon from South London, suffer from flashbacks, nightmares and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). They are some of the clients of the English law firm, Irwin Mitchel, who are representing crew members and passengers against Costa. One of the lawyers told a newspaper in the U.K.:  “We believe that the initial impact could have been avoided and that this was Costa Concordia Giglio Italyicompounded by the failure of the crew, the captain, and the carrier to exercise proper evacuation processes. Had they been carried out lives may have been saved.”

Newlywed couple Benji Smith and Emily Lau were on their wedding cruise when disaster struck. They scavenged a rope from the deck of the ship and rappelled down the hull. "I've never been so terrified in my life," says Smith. "When all the lifeboats left us behind, Emily and I truly thought we were going to die. This was our honeymoon cruise, but we actually said goodbye to each other." They recently announced that they are publishing a memoir of their experience escaping from the sinking ship and an album of original compositions inspired by the disaster.

Captain Francesco Schettino appears again in the news today, lamenting in his usual hyperbole that "I have been painted as worse than bin Laden."  

The cruise industry claims that the cruise lines have instituted improvements to avoid the next Concordia disaster. Carnival U.K. chief David Dingle explains to ITV in a video that the cruise lines have started more drills for passengers and staff, extra life jackets, fewer visits to the bridge, ships keeping to course and heavy objects being secured.  

Meanwhile the Concordia lies in the port of Giglio. It is expected to be removed from the port at the end of next summer.

 

Photo credit:

Top - Francesco Schettino - AP

Bottom - Costa Concordia - Giglio News (image dated September 2012).

Costa Concordia Survivor Looks Back As One Year Anniversary Approaches

A television station (WBRD) in Louisville Kentucky brings us the story of 29 year-old Lauren Moore, a Bowling Green native, who sailed aboard the ill-fated Costa Concordia with her friends a year ago come January 13th. 

Lauren had only been on-board for a couple hours when disaster struck. She says:

"It's not easy for me to forget. I remember the sounds of the screaming. I remember the feeling of the boat going over on its side."

"People being shoved, people screaming, people fighting each other for a spot to safe their life. My friend and I grabbed hands and we never let go of each other until we were safe on land." 

Lauren says that she remembers the sights and sounds of the horrible events that claimed the lifes of 32 people every day, but she wants to celebrate the fact that she and her friends are alive on the one year anniversary.    

 

 

Remembering Titanic

As we all know, 100 years ago today the Titanic struck an iceberg.  By the following morning over 1,500 people were dead.

The horror of the event, it seems to me, has largely faded by the passing of time.  Does anyone really stop and reflect on the fear and suffering experienced by the doomed passengers and crew?  Or the sadness of the families who lost loved ones in the disaster?

When someone says Titanic, most people probably think of the movie with Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.  Most people would rather think of a love scene between Jack & Rose than 1,500 soon-Costa Concordia - Giglio Italyto-be-dead people gasping for air in dark, deep and icy waters.   

At this very moment there are several cruise ships, on Titanic memorial cruises, heading to the spot where the cruise ship sank. There are many accounts of smiling passengers in period costumes similar to what the first class passengers were wearing in 1912, with women in corsets and men in top hats.  Lots of excited passengers enjoying their cruises; fine meals, cocktails, dancing, and laughter.

This seems rather macabre to me. When they find themselves at the watery grave tonight where 1,500 souls perished, will they be remembering the real event or celebrating the Titanic movie, now in 3-D?

Carol Burnett said "death plus time equals comedy."  And Angela Carter said "comedy is tragedy which happens to others."  Both thoughts, I suppose, are true.  One of my Dad's favorite saying when things went wrong was "other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?"  Yes, its funny as long as it's not your family and it happened long ago.

But the Titanic is not the last cruise ship where someone died.  Over the past 100 years, there have been hundreds of maritime incidents which have accounted for the deaths of thousands of passengers and crew members.  Many fires, collisions, and sinkings - not to mention over-boards, violence and crimes - have occurred during cruises since the Titanic sank. 

When I think of the Titanic, my mind goes to the tragedies suffered by hundreds of people whose have lost loved ones during cruises in the last decade or so.

In 1998, Amy Bradley disappeared during a Royal Caribbean cruise.  In 2004, Merrian Carver disappeared during a Celebrity cruise and Ashley Barnett died under mysterious circumstances on a Carnival cruise ship.  In 2005, George Smith disappeared during his honeymoon cruise.  In 2006 Richard Liffridge died in a fire on a Princess cruise. And last year, Disney youth counselor Rebecca Coriam disappeared from the Disney Wonder.  In the last 10 years, there have been over 170 people who have disappeared from cruise ships.  The families of the missing and dead are living through their own Titanic horror every day.  

This morning I clicked on the web cam on Giglio Porto, showing the Costa Concordia on its side, under dark angry clouds. There is nothing funny about this latest disaster.  A 100 years from now, will there be memorial cruises to Giglio? Will the cruise passengers be dancing and laughing then?