Divers reveal the chaotic mess survivors had to brave to escape listing cruise liner17-01-2012
- Rescue workers continued search this afternoon - after Costa Concordia slipped 9cm from rocky resting place sparking fears it could plummet to bottom of sea
- Search effort was suspended at sunset tonight with no signs of any more survivors
- Dyana Arlotti, 5, is youngest person unaccounted for after she went missing with her father William
- Another body found, taking official death toll to six
- 'Hopes are fading', says Mayor of Giglio
Brave rescue crews frantically scoured the stricken Costa Concordia cruise ship for survivors today in a desperate race against time. The partially-sunken liner slipped further into the sea during high winds earlier in the day and is now lying on its side in about 45ft of water. And there are now fresh fears that the precariously-perched vessel could break completely free from its rocky ledge at any moment and plummet hundreds of feet to the bottom of the Mediterranean. There are also concerns that, if the vessel shifts even slightly, it could puncture its fuel tanks.
Despite the threat of imminent catastrophe, rescue workers today resumed their search for the 16 passengers still unaccounted for, trawling through the ship's maze of corridors and cabins, although the search was suspended at nightfall. Firefighters said that the vessel was still making small movements, but they were not considered dangerous. And tonight the emergency services confirmed that all the areas of the liner that are above water had now been searched, indicating faint hopes of finding more survivors.
A five-year-old Italian girl and her father are believed to be among the passengers still missing after the vessel grounded. William Arlotti, 34, and his daughter Dyana, from Rimini, are among 16 still unaccounted for after the luxury cruise ship ran aground off the island of Giglio and then partially sank on Friday night, Italian media reports.
The naming of the remaining missing people comes as investigators revealed another body had been found - taking the official death toll to six. Dyana's mother, Susy Albertini told Italian newspaper Voce di Romagna: 'I have made hundreds of phone calls to my ex-husband, but he does not respond. 'I called all the authorities, the Police Prefecture to the Marina di Grosseto, the fire department, but nobody can tell me anything about my daughter.The last time I saw Dyana was Thursday morning. I took her to kindergarten. 'In the evening her father picked her up. It is not the first time she has gone with her father on a cruise. I heard there were problems on the ship on Saturday morning from his parents. Meanwhile, I continue to call everyone and no one can tell me anything about my daughter.'
Mr Arlotti's cousin, Sabrina Ottaviani, posted an appeal on Facebook which said: 'My cousin and little niece are still missing. They slid into the water in a corridor between muster point A and B. 'Someone told his girlfriend that they were pulled up by rope but there is no trace of them... if someone truly saw them on the rope please let me know.' Miss Albertini's mother, Alberta Sartini, added: 'We are waiting for news, we are on tenterhooks.My daughter had trusted to give the child to her former husband and the child was happy to go on a cruise with him. I hope with all my heart they come back.'
The sixth victim was a man, found in a corridor in the part of the ship that was still above water, who was still wearing his orange lifejacket. Others confirmed dead include two men, 86-year-old Italian Giovanni Masia and Spaniard Guillermo Gual, 68, discovered at an emergency gathering point near the restaurant.
Two French passengers and Peruvian crew member Tomas Costilla Mendoza have also been confirmed dead. The number unaccounted for increased because two Sicilian women, originally listed among the evacuated, have not contacted relatives. Of the sixteen missing, ten are passengers and six crew members. Six of the tourists are Italian, including Arlotti and his daughter, a couple from Biella and two women from Enna in Sicily. Two Americans on their 'holiday of a lifetime' are also still unaccounted for. Gerald and Barbara Heil, of White Bear Lake, Minnesota, were confirmed as missing by their daughter. And Pervuian tourism student Peruvian Erika Soria, 26, who was working on the ship, is also missing. Her father Saturnino told Pervuian TV: 'My concern is that the authorities intensify their search and find my daughter wherever she is. She has to be found, dead or alive. The pain of not knowing what’s happened to her is killing us. I haven’t given up hope of seeing her alive again.'
Rising turbulence this morning led to concerns that the ship - which has on board some 2,500 tons of fuel - could become unstable, creating the threat of a possible environmental disaster on top of the human loss. No leaks into the pristine waters have been reported so far, and a Dutch firm has been called in to help extract the fuel. Environment Minister Corrado Clini said: 'The environmental risk for the island of Giglio is extremely high. The goal is to avoid that the fuel leaks from the ship. We are working on this. The intervention is urgent.' But, offering glimmers of hope, three people were rescued yesterday. A young honeymooning South Korean couple, both aged 29, were plucked alive from the wreckage. Jeong Hye Jim and his wife Kideok Hanmarito became stranded two decks below rescuers who eventually heard their screams. And the ship's cabin service director, 57-year-old Manrico Giampetroni, was discovered in an air pocket in a flooded restaurant two days after the incident. He was trapped after breaking his leg, and was dramatically winched to safety. Confirmation of the sixth death comes as investigators look into reports that the ship's captain might have been 'showing off' when he steered the vessel too close to rocks. Captain Francesco Schettino's behaviour is said to be under close scrutiny as he faces accusations he abandoned the vessel before ensuring all of the 4,200 people aboard were safely evacuated. It is thought that Capt Schettino sailed as close to land as he did as he wanted to salute to a friend on shore.
The display was said to be in a 'salute of respect' for a former Costa cruises commander Mario Palombo who retired in 2006 due to ill health and whose family were originally from Giglio. As British survivors spoke of the 'screaming and crying' as they tried to get off the stricken vessel, the ship's owner Costa Crociere said 'preliminary indications' suggested Capt Schettino may have been guilty of 'significant human error'. The ship's Italian owner, a subsidiary of Carnival Cruise lines, issued a statement late Sunday saying there appeared to be 'significant human error' on the part of the captain, Francesco Schettino, 'which resulted in these grave consequences'. It said in a statement: 'The route of the vessel appears to have been too close to the shore, and the captain's judgment in handling the emergency appears to have not followed standard Costa procedures.'
Carnival PLC, the owner of the capsized boat, saw its share price plummet by around a fifth.
Carnival CEO Micky Arison said in a statement: 'At this time, our priority is the safety of our passengers and crew. 'We are deeply saddened by this tragic event and our hearts go out to everyone affected by the grounding of the Costa Concordia and especially to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives.'
Authorities were holding Schettino for suspected manslaughter and a prosecutor confirmed yesterday they were also investigating allegations the captain abandoned the stricken liner before all the passengers had escaped. According to the Italian navigation code, a captain who abandons a ship in danger can face up to 12 years in prison. Schettino insisted he did not leave the liner early, telling Mediaset television that he had done everything he could to save lives. He said: 'We were the last ones to leave the ship.' Questions also swirled about why the ship had navigated so close to the dangerous reefs and rocks that jut off Giglio's eastern coast, amid suspicions the captain may have ventured too close while carrying out a manoeuvre to entertain tourists on the island. Residents of Giglio said they had never seen the Costa come so close to the dangerous 'Le Scole' reef area. 'This was too close, too close,' said Italo Arienti, a 54-year-old sailor who has worked on the Maregiglio ferry between Giglio and the mainland for more than a decade.
Pointing to a nautical map, he drew his finger along the path the ship usually takes and the jarring one close to shore that it followed on Friday. Costa captains have occasionally steered the ship near port and sounded the siren in a special salute, Arienti said. Such a nautical 'fly-by' was staged last August, prompting the town's mayor to send a note of thanks to the commander for the treat it provided tourists who flock to the island, local news portal GiglioNews.it reported. But Arienti and other residents said even on those occasions, the cruise ship always stayed far offshore, well beyond the reach of the 'Le Scole' reefs. Coast Guard Cmdr. Filippo Marini said divers had recovered the so-called 'black box', with the recording of the navigational details, from a compartment now under water, though no details were released.
All 35 Britons on board, including 12 crew, are safe. Britons who were on board the stricken ship have now arrived back home and spoken about their ordeal. Mandy Rodford, 45, and her husband John, 46, from Rochester in Kent, were celebrating their fourth wedding anniversary on the vessel when it ran aground. The couple had only been on board the Mediterranean cruise ship for seven hours before disaster struck. Mrs Rodford, who had been hesitant about going on the holiday because she does not like water, said: 'I just thought my life was gone. I just thought my life was over, getting in that water. 'I thought, if I don't die from the swimming part, I'm going to die from the shock of having to get in it.'
Speaking at London's Heathrow Airport, after flying back from Rome yesterday, Mr Rodford said they first thought something was wrong when they were eating their dinner.
He said he heard 'a crunch', then his drink started sliding along the table. The couple asked a crew member if there was a problem, but they were told: 'No, it's the engine.'
He added: 'Then the lights went out and came back on. And then it (the ship) started going the other way, and quite a lot the other way. 'All the plates were coming off the tables and smashing, and it was just like bedlam. Everyone was getting the life jackets, but they told us to stay. They said: 'It's all right, it's under control'.' They described sliding down the corridors across the width of the ship to reach the starboard side, which was closest to the water. The couple chose a cabin on the sixth floor without a window, because of Mrs Rodford's fear of water, and their room was on the side of the ship submerged in the sea. A group of British dancers who worked on the ship also came back to Heathrow yesterday. James Thomas, 19, from Sutton Coldfield, said: 'My life was that ship for six months, and now it's gone.'
Describing the evacuation, he said: 'It was chaos, because we had to go through the centre of the ship, which had been obliterated by the tilt. Everything was everywhere.' Mr Thomas said he was in charge of a group of 20 staff on board the boat as they helped passengers to muster stations and life rafts. He said: 'It was handling everyone else that was the biggest problem.' Rose Metcalf, 23, from Wimborne in Dorset, wiped away tears as she revealed she had written a note to her mother in case she did not survive. She was one of the last people to be rescued by a helicopter after she clambered from Deck Four to Deck Five. She said: 'There was just so much panic so I decided to wait until the water was high enough so I could jump or swim, but I didn't want to be inside. I was just keeping practical. I was making sure the people on my life raft had their jackets done up. I was trying to keep people talking, was trying to keep the mood calm and keep practical. My heart was racing, but I was calm to everyone else.'
Miss Metcalf said she used her watch to time how quickly the water was creeping up the side of the ship, and estimating what degree the vessel was lying in the sea. Phoebe Jones, from Walton-on-Thames in Surrey, said: 'It feels really surreal. It still doesn't feel like I'm home.'The 20-year-old was on stage performing a magic show and was about to clamber into a tiny box when the ship ran aground. Miss Jones said the were no alarms or warnings, but she instinctively went to her nearest rendezvous point. The dancer said it took some time for the events to sink in.
By: Tene Sommer
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