Italy celebrates 10 years since the Costa Concordia disaster


Italy will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Costa Concordia disaster on Thursday with a day-long memorial.

Thirty-two people died when the ship hit a reef and capsized off the Tuscan island of Giglio.

The events will end with a candlelight vigil at 9:45 p.m. when the ship hit a reef.

The 4,200 survivors and residents of Giglio who received passengers and crew, and provided clothing and shelter so that passengers could return to the mainland, will also be honored.

“For us islanders, when we remember an event we always refer to whether it was before the Concordia or after it,” said Mateo Cuba, then 23, who was fishing on the pier when the dark Concordia rolled toward the shore and then collapsed on the her side in the water.

“I imagine it like a nail stuck to the wall referring to that date, as it was before and after,” he said, recalling how he had joined the rescue effort that night, helping pull dizzy and freezing passengers from lifeboats to shore.

The boat will remain off the coast of the island for another ten years until it is removed in 2014.

The sad anniversary comes as the cruise industry, which has been shuttered in most parts of the world for several months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is once again in the spotlight due to virus outbreaks threatening passenger safety.

For survivor of Concordia, Georgia Ananias, the COVID-19 infection is just the latest evidence that passenger safety is still not a top priority for the cruise ship industry.

“I always said this wouldn’t define me, but you don’t have a choice,” Hanania said in an interview from her home in Los Angeles, California. “We all have PTSD. We had a lot of guilt because we survived and 32 other people died.”

Prosecutors blamed the delayed evacuation order and conflicting instructions given by the crew for the chaos that followed when passengers scrambled to disembark.

Captain Francesco Cetino is serving a 16-year prison sentence for manslaughter, causing a ship to sink and abandoning it before all passengers and crew were evacuated.

Hanania and her family refused Costa’s initial compensation of $14,500 per passenger and sued Costa, a unit of the US-based Carnival Foundation, to try to cover the cost of their medical bills and treatment for their post-traumatic stressors. But after eight years in the American and then Italian court system, they lost their case.

Hanania, who has gone on to become a senior official with the Cruise Victims International Association, an advocacy group that lobbies to improve safety on board and increase transparency and accountability in the industry, said Hanania.

Costa did not respond to emails seeking comment on the anniversary.

The Cruise Lines International Association, the world’s largest trade association of the cruise industry, emphasized in a statement to The Associated Press that the safety of passengers and crew members was the industry’s top priority, and that cruises remain one of the safest vacation experiences available.

“Our thoughts continue with the victims of the Concordia tragedy and their families on this sad memory,” CLIA said. She said she has worked over the past ten years with the IMO and the maritime industry to “advance a culture of safety based on continuous improvement”.

For Giglio Mayor Sergio Ortelli, memories of that night run the gamut: the horror of seeing the capsized ship, the rush to coordinate rescue services ashore, the first bodies being recovered, and then the pride with which the islanders rose to the occasion. for survivors.

Ortelli was on hand later, in September 2013, the 115,000-ton, 300-meter-long cruise ship was corrected vertically off her tomb on the sea floor in an extraordinary engineering feat. But the night of the disaster, Friday the 13th, is still etched in his memory.

“It was a night that, in addition to being a tragedy, had a beautiful side because the people’s response was a spontaneous gesture that was appreciated all over the world,” Ortelli said.

It seemed the natural thing to do at the time. “But then we realized that that night, within a few hours, we had done something unbelievable.”



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