Pattaya Daily News

15 January 2012 :: 21:01:13 pm 61307

Costa Concordia accident

Airlift to safety: The moment trapped crewman was finally rescued from cruise ship... TWO DAYS after it went down off Italian coast
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A senior crew member on board the luxury Italian cruise liner that capsized in the Mediterranean was dramatically airlifted to safety today after being trapped on board the stricken Costa Concordia for more than 36 hours.

Cabin service director Manrico Giampedroni, 57, was discovered in one of the ship’s restaurants which was semi-submerged with water. Italian news reports say he stayed behind to help passengers into the lifeboats but as the vessel listed he fell and broke his leg.

He said of the ordeal this afternoon: ‘I never lost hope of being saved. It was a 36-hour nightmare’.

It came as the desperate hunt for survivors continued following the rescue of two 29-year-old newlyweds plucked alive from the wreckage late last night. The couple from South Korea had been on their honeymoon when they became stranded two decks below rescuers who eventually heard their screams.

More than 4,000 people were evacuated when the ship ran aground off the coast of Tuscany on Friday night, leaving two French passengers and a Peruvian crew member confirmed dead. But this morning 38 people were still missing.

The newlyweds, who are not thought to be injured, told firefighters they had not seen or heard any other survivors during the 24 hours they were trapped.

Meanwhile, the Concordia’s captain, Francesco Schettino, and first officer Ciro Ambrosio were detained last night at the police station in Porto Santo Stefano on the Italian mainland, as they faced continuing questioning about the events leading up to the disaster. Prosecutors are investigating possible charges of multiple manslaughter and abandoning the ship while passengers were still in danger.

Prosecutor Francesco Verusio said the Concordia had approached the tiny island of Giglio ‘the wrong way’, while sources said that the 52-year-old captain, from Naples, had abandoned the ship at around 11.30pm local time – about an hour after it struck a rocky outcrop and started taking in water – while the last passengers were not taken to safety until 3am yesterday morning.

As the liner lay virtually flat on its starboard side last night, a 160ft gash visible on its upturned hull, rescue workers raised the possibility that there may still be bodies in the submerged section.

Fire services spokesman Luca Cari said specialist diving teams would ‘check all the interior spaces of the ship’ and added: ‘We don’t rule out the possibility that more people will be lost.’

Two of the confirmed victims were French and the third victim was named as Tomas Alberto Costilla Mendoza, a crewman aged 49, from Peru.

One report said last night that 29 Filipino kitchen workers were feared trapped in the bowels of the 951ft, £390 million Concordia.

Last night concerns were raised about the chaos and confusion on board and the delays in evacuating the vessel.

It was also suggested that the passenger list may not have been kept up to date, which might account for some of those missing.

Recounting scenes reminiscent of the film Titanic, survivors spoke of crawling in darkness along upended hallways and stairwells as crockery and glasses smashed around them.

There were also reports of passengers wearing life jackets over evening dress jumping overboard into the cold, night sea and trying to swim ashore.

One of the most dramatic accounts of the night came from 22-year-old Rose Metcalf, from Dorset, who was among the last few people to leave the vessel.
She was one of eight British dancers working on the Concordia and spoke of hanging on to a water hose which a friend had tied to the ship’s handrail when it began to list.

Later, after being rescued by helicopter, she left a message for her father saying: ‘I don’t know how many are dead. I am alive … just. I think I was the last one off.’ All 37 Britons on board were believed safe last night.

The ship was on a Mediterranean cruise starting from the Italian city of Civitavecchia with scheduled calls at Savona, Cagliari and Palermo, all also in Italy; Marseilles in France; and Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

As divers searched areas of the ship that were now underwater, there was some concern for their safety if the vessel shifted.

‘It is a very delicate operation because the ship might move or sink farther,’ said a spokesman for Italy’s coastguard. ‘This could endanger the divers, trapping them inside the wreck.’

Many of the passengers were sitting down to eat in the Concordia’s restaurants when they heard a loud bang followed by a ‘terrible groaning’ noise.

 

Diners were instructed to remain seated even as the ship began listing. According to the captain, the ship had an electrical problem. But although it soon became clear that the problem was far worse, passengers continued to be told for a good 45 minutes that there was a simple technical problem.

Even when the situation became clearer crew members delayed lowering the lifeboats even though the ship was listing badly.

‘We had to scream at the controllers to release the boats from the side,’ said Mike van Dijk, a 54-year-old from Pretoria, South Africa.

‘We were standing in the corridors and they weren’t allowing us to get on to the boats. It was a scramble, an absolute scramble.’

Robert Elcombe, 50, from Colchester but who now lives in Australia, said he and his wife Tracy got into a life boat – but were ordered out again when staff said it was ‘only a generator problem’ that could be fixed.

He said: ‘But as we got back inside the ship it tilted so steeply that I had to grab hold of people to save them as they flew down the corridor.

‘It was real Titanic stuff. We lost everything: passports, luggage, money. But at least we’re alive, unlike some people.’

Georgia Ananias, 61, from Los Angeles, recalled crawling along a hallway as the ship began to upturn. She said an Argentine couple handed her their three-year-old daughter, as they were unable to keep their balance. ‘I grabbed the baby. But then I was being pushed down,’ she said. ‘I didn’t want the baby to fall down the stairs. I gave the baby back. I couldn’t hold her. I thought that was the end and I thought they should be with their baby. I wonder where they are.’

Passengers Alan and Laurie Willits from Ontario said they were watching the magic show in the ship’s main theatre when they felt an initial lurch, followed a few seconds later by a shudder.

They said the ship then listed and the theatre curtains seemed like they were standing on their side. ‘And then the magician disappeared,’ said Mr Willits.
When he left the stage it panicked the audience members who fled for their cabins.

There were reports last night that captain Schettino, had been dining with passengers when the accident happened – but the ship’s operating company, Costa Crociera, said he was on the bridge.

He then discovered that the ship was four miles off course, but was unsure why. One theory is that an electrical fault had wiped out the ship’s navigational power and steering control. Captain Schettino told investigators that charts showed he was in waters deep enough to navigate.

He was quoted as saying: ‘The area was safe, the water was deep enough. We struck a stretch of rock that was not marked on the charts. As far as I am concerned, we were in perfectly navigable waters.’

Francesco Paolillo, a coastguard commander, said the vessel ‘hit an obstacle’, ripping a gash across the left side of the ship, which started taking on water. He said the captain tried to steer his ship toward shallow waters, near Giglio’s small port, to make evacuation by lifeboat easier.

But when Captain Schettino realised the severity of the situation, he gave the order to abandon ship with seven short whistles.

Within minutes the Costa Concordia, began to list dramatically, reaching an angle of 20 degrees in just two hours. The angle became too steep for lifeboat evacuation, and instead, five helicopters from the coastguard, navy and air force airlifted the last 50 passengers still aboard.

By early morning, nine hours after the incident, the Costa Concordia, was at an angle of more than 80 degrees.

Officials last night said the dead were a Peruvian crew member and two French tourists.

One Italian passenger said: ‘There was just utter chaos and panic. No one from the crew seemed to know what they were doing.

‘No one counted us, neither in the life boats nor on land,’ said Ophelie Gondelle, 28, a French military officer. She said there had been no evacuation drill since she boarded on January 8.

The evacuees initially took refuge in schools, hotels and a church on the tiny island of Giglio, about 18 miles off Italy’s west coast. Mayor Sergio Ortelli issued an appeal for ‘anyone with a roof’ to open their homes to survivors. By yesterday afternoon they had all been flown to the mainland.

Report by : Daily Mail

Category : World News

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