Last night I attended a pre-game party for the Miami Heat - Oklahoma City Thunder basketball game at a friend's house. One of the families was excitedly talking about leaving on Wednesday for a cruise to Italy. Other families began comparing cruise stories to Italy. I don't talk "cruise law" during social events. I just listened.
There were no discussions about cruise ship fires, groundings or disappearances at the party. No jokes about "watch out for the rocks." No mention of the Costa Concordia crash. It was as if the capsizing of the Concordia never happened.
This morning the sun arose over the little Port of Giglio. There slept the Concordia, peacefully resting on her side. The terrifying screams of panicked Costa passengers have been replaced by the gentle lapping of the Mediterranean waters against Concordia's hull.
Numerous news sources are reporting that a cruise ship carrying 173 passengers and crew sank in Russia's Volga river today.
The sinking involved the Bulgaria cruise ship, which had 140 passengers and 33 crewmembers aboard.
To date, there have been reports of two confirmed dead bodies recovered and 96 people unaccounted for after the Bulgaria sank at 1358 local time (0858 GMT) in the Tatarstan region, 500 miles east of Moscow.
A helicopter and two rescue vessels are reportedly at the scene of the sinking.
According to the Mail Online, the Bulgaria sank near the village of Syukeevo in the Kansko-Ustinovsky district near the region's capital, Kazan. The Bulgaria belongs to a local tourism company and was on its way from the town of Bulgar to the regional capital, Kazan.
There are conflicting accounts of the number of people missing. The Russian website states that 169 people have been rescued, although most news accounts state that there are 80 -100 still missing.
July 10, 2011 Update:
A Russian website has heart wrenching photographs of the survivors. Updated information from Russia regarding the recovery efforts can be located here.
July 11, 2011 Update: The Rianovisti newspaper in Russia reports that although the Russian Transport Ministry stated that the vessel had passed a regular "technical inspection" on June 15th and was certified for further use, investigators discovered that the ship "had a list to starboard and its engine was broken" when it left port. It was "heavily overloaded with passengers." There now appears to have been 196 people on the cruise ship. Only 79 were rescued. The video below depicts disturbing images of some of the deceased passengers.
Top: Survivors of Bulgaria sinking - Rianovisti newspaper
The Telegraph newspaper in the U.K. has an interesting story containing a passenger's account of events aboard the Independence of the Seas following the explosion at the port in Gibraltar. Some of the accounts:
“People thought it was a bomb and started screaming. Parents jumped in the pool to grab their children, while others dashed to the kids’ club on deck 12 to see if their children were injured.”
"One crew member . . . heard screaming and saw black smoke; she thought one of the restaurants was on fire."
"At dinner that night, the explosion was on everyone’s lips. 'We thought it was a bomb,' one middle-aged passenger said. 'American ship in a British port – quite an easy target.'
All of the accounts we have read praised the captain and crew. "Within minutes, the captain made an announcement, ordering everyone off the open decks and balconies, and sending a rapid response team up to deck 11 where the outdoor pools and bars were packed with young families making the most of the Gibraltar heat."
"Officers ran along the side of the dock to the stern of the ship, presumably to check for any damage . . . Just four minutes later, we slipped our moorings and the ship sailed . . . Thanks to a quick-thinking captain, a major incident was averted."
YouTube member "Kasbah89" posted a video of the fire. It shows the Independence of the Seas quickly departing away from the burning oil tank and turning to head out of danger:
Were you on the cruise and have photos or video to share? Please let us here from you.
Video credit: kasbah89 / YouTube
Some amazing photographs can be viewed at David Parody's Flickr photostream here.
Twitter was the first to report the collision between Carnival and Royal Caribbean's cruise ships at port in Cozumel. Neither Carnival nor Royal Caribbean used their Twitter pages.
Instead, Carnival employee@Dan85Poindexterwas the first person to tweet that Carnival's Legend collided with Royal Caribbean's Enchantment of the Seas in Cozumel after the Legend's mooring lines were released.
Apparently, strong winds pushed Carnival's Legend into the Enchantment, causing relatively minor damage. Some have characterized the incident as the two cruise ships "trading paint."
In addition to the tweeting passengers, a resourceful passenger uploaded his video of the Carnival - Royal Caribbean collision to YouTube. One of the passengers on the video is heard criticizing the Captain of the Carnival cruise ship: "you have the whole f - - - ing ocean to park on!"
It should be obvious to anyone with a computer that breaking news will no longer be covered first by newspapers or the conventional media, but by citizen journalists, iPhone photographers and YouTube videographers.
Its nice to see the Twitpics and YouTube videos for yourself rather than having to rely on cruise line press statements and the usual spin.
Maritime & admiralty lawyer & attorney James M. Walker of Walker & O'Neill Law Firm, offering services related to injuries, sexual assaults, fires, negligence, rapes & disappearances on cruise ships, pirate & terrorist attacks, missing passengers, shore excursions, wrongful death and the Jones Act, serving cruise passengers, crew members, cabin attendants, utility workers, waiters, bar tenders, ship doctors and cleaners on cruise ships worldwide.
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