Last Friday night, around 1:30 A.M., a fire broke out in the engine room of the Costa Magica.
A passenger brought the event to my attention, indicating that there were several conflicting announcements from the cruise ship’s captain regarding where the fire broke out. The passenger indicated that the fire lasted over an hour.
We asked Costa and parent company Carnival Corporation for an explanation. We heard nothing from Costa, or from Carnival, but we did receive a comment on our Facebook page from an engineer inspector for Carnival in Genoa, Italy. He falsely claimed that there was "no fire" on the Costa ship.
Costa finally responded to the inquiry on Facebook, belatedly claiming that the fire was allegedly "small" and "quickly extinguished" and, claiming further, that the safety of the passengers was never in question. It did not mention the cause of the fire or how long the fire crew had to battle the fire before extinguishing it.
Today, we received a message from a passenger who was on the Magica at the time of the fire, saying (translated):
"I am French and I confirm the fire on board because I was there as a passenger.
We suffered a fire on board (engine room) on Thursday 23/2 causing an alert in the middle of the night at sea. The crew on the launches were disorganized, stressed and did not answer the questions of the worried passengers . . . Like many passengers, we experienced this somewhat traumatic experience and the lack of subsequent communication was not reassuring.
Imagine: messages in Italian indicating throughout the boat and cabins that there is an alert in the middle of the night. You go out into the corridors and there everyone runs in all directions. You are asking questions to staff who already have their yellow lifejackets and they reply:
- nothing and continue to run
- getting back to your cabin is all right!
On deck 3 facing the rescue boats you observe the stressed faces of the crew and on the lookout for any information from the commander. After an hour the latter informs them that the situation is mastered . . .
What is damaging is that in case of real alert, it is a little everyone for himself and the panic settles and is not at all controlled during and after the alert by COSTA.
I queried by mail COSTA on my return and to date no reply!"
This account sounds like Costa’s response to the Costa Concordia disaster, when the ship’s officers delayed notifying Costa’s home office in Genoa, after the ship hit the rocks, and lied to the passengers onboard the ship about what was happening. When the ship was beginning to sink, many officers and managers misled the passengers and told them that "the situation is under control. Go back to your cabins . . ."
Thirty-two passengers and crew members died as a result of Costa’s negligence and lies.
That was over five years ago. Has Costa learned anything since then?
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I suggest reading: Russel Rebello – The True Captain of the Costa Concordia.