Saturday, January 14, 2012

Costa Concordia Listing after Deadly Accident

Click to view more images. (AP/Gregorio Borgia)
Costa Concordia
Runs Aground
in Italian Waters

3 Deaths Reported
Several Missing


In this AP Photo, The luxury cruise ship Costa Concordia leans on the rocks after running aground the tiny Tuscan island of Giglio, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012, off the coast of Tuscany.  The incident tore a 160-foot (50-meter) gash in the hull, sending water through the opening, and forcing the evacuation of some 4,200 people from the listing vessel early Saturday according to the Italian Coast Guard.

It appears that the ship struck a rocky sandbar in shallow waters near the port town of Porto Santo Stefano, which is where the majority of the passengers and crew were taken in the evacuation.  According to passenger reports, they were at dinner when they heard a large noise and a blackout followed.  Passengers were running through the ship screaming and going to their cabins to get life jackets.   Despite crew attempts to keep things calm, it appears there was quite a lot of panic.  Some passengers jumped off the ship, reminiscent of the Titanic disaster which occurred 100 years ago this year. In this case, they could swim to shore, so it wasn't really a bad decision after all to jump.

Click for Continuing Coverage (below)

Wikipedia Page: Costa Concordia disaster

Related Posts: 

Carnival Corporation Official Statement On Costa Concordia

Statement from CLIA on Costa Concordia

Extraordinary Images and Efforts at Concordia Site 

Compensation Guidelines Costa Concordia (Updated 15 Feb)

Carnival Corp Taking Steps to Address Safety Concerns

Remembering the Costa Concordia Victims

Costa Concordia Fuel Removal (Ongoing updates)

Concordia Disaster Rekindles Venice Restrictions

Underwater Footage - Images Costa Concordia 

The Legal ABCs of the Costa Concordia Shipwreck (Peter Greenberg)

Costa Concordia Legal Update (Ongoing updates) 

Expert Findings Released on Costa Concordia

Costa Concordia One Month Later

Costa Concordia Removal Plans

Costa Concordia Salvage Begins

Parbuckling of Costa Concordia Approved 

Parbuckling of Costa Concordia Begins 

Costa Concordia Black Box

Costa Concordia Nearly One Year Later 

Costa Concordia Anniversary  

Costa Concordia the Final Journey

Captain Schettino Prison Sentence Set 

 Editor's note:  There's been a lot of comparison to the Titanic in the media, along with criticism for doing so.  We've made a reference here ourselves, not to the outcome or even the tilting, but to people jumping for their lives in panic, which is what people do in any scary situation where they feel out of control and just want to escape by any quick means.
It is also human nature to try to relate situations to others already stored in our memory banks.  We do this from our early moments in our lives when we start to understand.  Humans learn by comparison; it's what we do day in and day out.


Costa Concordia Facts           Cruise Industry Safety Record    

UPDATE: 11 Feb 2015:

Captain Schettino was sentenced to 16 years and one month in prison for multiple counts of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship in the 2012 disaster that killed 32 people.

Captain Schettino Prison Sentence Set

UPDATE: 4 Nov 2014:

The remains of Russel Rebello, the final passenger not accounted for, were found in a cabin on Deck 8 in the wrecked ship, which is currently in Genoa, where it was moved to be scrapped, Italy's state-run ANSA news agency reported.

UPDATE: 13 Jul 2014:

Costa Concordia the Final Journey

UPDATE 03 Jul 2014:

Costa Crociere: installation of all sponsons completed, ten days to possible refloatin

 Costa Concordia Salvage Begins (updated)

Get a glimpse inside the sunken Costa Concordia and compare that with moments before she sunk in January 2012. 

Inside Costa Concordia Now & Before

UPDATE 16 Sep 2013:

Parbuckling of Costa Concordia Begins 

UPDATE 6 Sep. 2013

Parbuckling of Costa Concordia Approved

UPDATE: 17 July 2013

Concordia Captain's Trial Finally Underway

UPDATE: 9 July 2013

Trial delayed due to nationwide lawyers strike: Captain Schettino Gets Day in Court or Not

UPDATE: 11 Apr. 2013

Costa Cruises has made a €1 million ($1.3M) plea bargain settlement with an Italian court to limit its criminal liability for the capsizing of the Costa Concordia last January with the loss of 32 lives.  Full Details: Costa Fined - No Criminal Charges in Italy for Concordia

UPDATE: 13 Jan. 2013

One year anniversary of the tragedy.  A memorial service was held on the island of Giglio including the launching of 32 lanterns in memory of those that perished.

UPDATE: 11 Sep. 2012

A 270 page report prepared by the court-appointed panel of experts was filed with the court. The report blames the captain, crew and cruise line for the accident.  Full details: Expert Findings Released on Costa Concordia

UPDATE: 3 PM Eastern 23 Jun. 2012

Salvage operations have begun five months after the accident. The work will continue through the end of April, 2013, based on the schedule shared with the media by the American / Italian salvage team.    Read more...  Costa Concordia Salvage Begins

UPDATE: 4 PM Eastern 21 Apr. 2012

Costa Concordia will be refloated in one piece and towed.  The contract has been awarded and work will begin in May, lasting for about a year.  Read more... Costa Concordia Removal Plans

UPDATE: 4 PM Eastern 17 Apr. 2012

Five of the bodies recovered from the wreck site last month have been identified. Italian officials named Americans Barbara and Gerald Heil from Minnesota, Christina Matheson Ganz and Norbert Josef Ganz, both Germans, and Giuseppe Girolamo, an Italian citizen and member of the crew. At least 30 people died when the ship capsized, and two are still missing.

UPDATE: 4 PM Eastern 23 Mar. 2012

Five more bodies have been recovered from the wreckage bringing the total death toll to 30 with 2 more people unaccounted for. Workers completed the removal of 2,400 tons of oil from the ship's tanks this week, a delicate process that began five weeks ago. Six companies are bidding for the contract to remove the ship. The contract is anticipated to be awarded to the winning bid next month. It will be several months before the ship will be removed from its current spot on the rocks.

UPDATE: 4 PM Eastern 22 Feb. 2012

Eight bodies, including that of a young girl, were located on Wednesday by divers searching Deck 4 which is part of the submerged section of the ship. The girl found is likely to be Dayana Arlotti, a five-year-old Italian who was traveling with her father and his partner. Both father and daughter are missing. This brings the confirmed death toll to 25 with 7 additional people still unaccounted for.

Divers wore special protective wet suits to enter this area of the ship which had not previously been searched. "Because of closed doors it was hard to get to, and the water sealed inside the area was unsafe for divers in normal wetsuits and masks because of the chemicals, food and other remains trapped," according to a spokeswoman for the civil protection agency. The young girl and three other victims were removed from the ship on Wednesday; the other four will be removed on Thursday. A similar section on Deck 3 will also be searched.

Additional crew and Costa officials have been added to the list of people to be investigated as the investigation continues.

UPDATE: 9 AM Eastern 15 Feb. 2012

Fuel removal continues. The first small tank was emptied on 12 February and operations are continuing around the clock as the weather is still holding. A lawsuit, filed in circuit court of Miami, was amended to include a total of 39 passengers seeking more than US $528 Million in damages. This is not a class action lawsuit. See legal update blog article (link above) for more details.

UPDATE: 3 PM Eastern 12 Feb. 2012

Fuel removal operations finally began today after two weeks delay due to bad weather and rough seas. Focus of the current operation is on the six tanks in the front part of the ship where about 62-65 percent of the fuel is located.

Meanwhile, in a local memorial service, attended by Italy's president and the country's top bishop, there was a call for the truth of what transpired that night to come to light and for justice to be served.

"Let the light of the Lord help bring about truth and justice, let wounds be healed and let trust and courage for the future be reinforced," Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco said in his homily.  Additional memorial services are planned for tomorrow, the one month anniversary of the tragedy.

UPDATE: 8 AM Eastern 9 Feb. 2012

Bad weather continues to hamper the search for bodies and the fuel removal from Costa Concordia. Meanwhile legal proceedings continued, with the judge rejecting the prosecutors request to send the captain, who is under house arrest, back to jail. There are multiple suits filed or in the works by U.S. lawyers on behalf of groups of passengers and crew.  It will be interesting to see how those cases play out since the ticket contract, which passengers agree to when they board the ship, restricts compensation / liability and is governed by Italian law.

UPDATE: 9 PM Eastern  6 Feb. 2012

Prosecutors want Captain Francesco Schettino jailed for a total of 2,697 years as they made a request to have him sent back to jail, it emerged today. He is currently under house arrest in his home near Naples. Today, in a three hour closed door hearing in Florence before an appeal court judge, prosecutors argued he be sent back to jail as they fear he may well interfere with evidence and the fact that he fled his ship also raises the possibility he may try and avoid justice.

UPDATE: 9 AM Eastern  4 Feb. 2012

Another week has gone by and the story remains the same. The death toll remains at 17 with 15 missing and presumed to be deceased. Weather has been a factor most of this week preventing the search and oil recovery processes. SMIT continues to monitor the situation and remains ready to proceed with the extraction once conditions are favorable.

The investigation continues, with information surfacing about the captain and Domnica Cemortan, 25, from Chisinau, Moldova, who was seen in his company, and possibly was on the bridge before the accident. It is being reported that some of her clothing and cosmetics were found by divers in the captain's cabin. Their relationship is unclear, with contradictory information appearing in various reports, so we won't speculate here. It is probably safe to assume however, that the two of them were together around the time the ship hit the rocks.

UPDATE: 9 AM Eastern 30 Jan. 2012

Over the weekend, the 17th victim was pulled from the wreckage of Costa Concordia. SMIT provided a briefing of the process to remove the oil from the tanks of the vessel (click on link to article above). Weather conditions were unfavorable, and those efforts had to be discontinued. It is being reported that the ship may not be removed for as many as 10 months.

UPDATE: 9 AM Eastern 27 Jan. 2012

Costa Cruises negotiated the compensation plan, for uninjured passengers, with Italian consumer groups, announcing a payment of 11,000 Euros (approx. $14,500 US). See updated article above for complete details.

The death toll remained at 16 since the rescue operations had been halted due to bad weather. Preparations for the fuel extraction continued. See related blog post for complete details.

UPDATE: 1 PM Eastern 25 Jan. 2012

Bad weather halted search operations on Wednesday.

UPDATE: 9:00 AM Eastern 24 Jan. 2012

Another body was found somewhere on deck three bringing the death toll to 16. Preparations are underway to begin pumping of the fuel from the 17 tanks onboard the ship. A barge with a huge crane and other equipment hitched to the Concordia as the first step in the removal process. The actual removal isn't expected to start until Saturday.

UPDATE: 9:00 PM Eastern 23 Jan. 2012

Two women were found near the internet cafe by divers today, bringing the death count to 15. Salvage operations are also about to start to remove the fuel in parallel to the continuing search & recovery activity. There is no immediate danger that the ship will slip, so officials have given the go-ahead to begin the fuel operation.

UPDATE: 9:00 AM Eastern 23 Jan. 2012

BREAKING NEWS ... Italian officials say that removal of fuel and the search for victims can be done in tandem.  For days, fear had been growing that the stricken ship could sink to the depths of the sea and perhaps leak some, if not all, of the more than 2200 tons of heavy fuel into the pristine waters of Tuscany making this an even greater disaster.   This is a very important change in policy, allowing for both operations to be done.  The removal of the fuel is estimated to take up to two weeks.

UPDATE: 11 AM Eastern 22 Jan. 2012

Divers have recovered a female body in the aft of the ship, bringing the death count to 13. There is speculation that this latest victim is an unregistered Hungarian who phoned her family from the ship and hasn't been heard from since. That raises the possibility that the missing count may be inaccurate.

Fuel tanks containing more than 2200 tons of heavy fuel are holding while some light fuel from machinery has leaked into the sea.   Salvage operations will not begin until the search is terminated.   Searching of non-submerged parts of the ship continues as the seas were too rough for submerged sections to be safely explored.

Police divers have entered the captain's quarters retrieving his safe, suitcases, and documents.  The investigation continues, with the captain saying that the cruise line was aware of sail by salutes and often did them for publicity.   Costa Cruises' CEO contradicted that statement.

UPDATE: 5 PM Eastern 21 Jan. 2012

It is with sadness that we report the death toll has risen once again. Saturday, divers found a female passenger in the aft, near an assembly area of the submerged ship. Additional holes have been blown in the side of the ship to allow quicker access to the interior of the vessel. Eight days since the incident unfolded, rescue efforts continue, however hope of finding any more survivors has dwindled. Cabins are being searched using micro cameras which each cabin taking approximately 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, there was a hard drive salvaged which may contain video footage of the incident. Captain Francesco Schettino remains under house arrest near Naples, charged with manslaughter and abandoning ship before the evacuation was complete.  He denies leaving the ship early, stating that he had fallen into a life boat during rescue efforts, however, he was reluctant to return to ship when the Coast Guard ordered him to do so.

UPDATE: 9 AM Eastern 20 Jan. 2012

Once again rescue operations were suspended as the ship slid.  Salvage crews are trying to secure the Costa Concordia to rocks with heavy cables as the cruise ship slips into the sea at a rate of 1.5cm per hour. The stricken ship slid by around 5ft (1.5m) deeper into the sea on Wednesday.

The fear is that big waves forecast for the next 36 hours could push the ship off its perch, sending it to the bottom of the sea.  Removal of the fuel has not started yet since the search effort is still ongoing.

UPDATE: 1 PM Eastern 19 Jan. 2012

Rescue and recovery operations have resumed after being suspended for most of the day Wednesday as a 1.5 foot slippage stopped the work. Officials are getting more anxious about the ship's precarious position on the rocks as more rough seas are forecast in the next few days. Costa Cruises has deployed barriers which are designed to contain any fuel leak as ordered by local officials.

Two French nationals and a Hungarian violinist are among the confirmed dead that were recently identified. There are still at least 21 people missing.  While there is no deadline of completion of the search, the start of the salvage operations, to remove the fuel, is dependent on the rescue efforts terminating.   It is estimated that the fuel removal could take at least two weeks.

UPDATE: 9 AM Eastern 18 Jan. 2012

Once again rescue operations were halted on Wednesday, as rough seas caused another slight shift of the ship.Work had continued in the upper sections of the vessel overnight, but the shifting prevented the searching of submerged areas of the vessel.

Workers are still rushing against time as storms are forecast to enter the area on Thursday.  The fear is that there could be a fuel spill or the ship could sink to the bottom of the sea, if it were to be shifted from its present position upon the rocks.   Since five days have now passed, hopes are very slim that anyone else could be alive in the wreckage. 

UPDATE: 1 PM Eastern 17 Jan. 2012

Five additional bodies have been recovered from the scene of the Concordia accident now as efforts continue to account for all of the missing passengers and crew.   A race against the clock continues to find all the missing and to prevent an environmental disaster as a "liquid" was seen leaking from the vessel.  (see related links above for more about the recovery).

An audio taped conversation between the Captain and the Italian Coast Guard was released to the press, and played on national news yesterday, indicating that the Captain was conducting the rescue efforts from a life boat when the Coast Guard wanted him to be back on board and ordered him to do so.  The Captain faces multiple charges related to the incident and is scheduled to appear in court today.


UPDATE: 9 AM Eastern 16 Jan. 2012

The death toll has risen to six, and rescue operations have been suspended as the calm weather changed to rough seas and light drizzle causing the ship to slip 9 cm (4 inches) vertically and 1.5 cm horizontally.  The rescuers had been fearing that weather could impact operations.  It isn't known when rescue efforts will be allowed to continued.

Meanwhile, Costa Cruises is admitting that  human error, in the part of the Captain, played a significant role in this accident.   While they say they will provide him with assistance, it is clear that they are placing the blame solely on his shoulders.  It would appear that the focus of the investigation will center around why the ship was so close to shore in the first place as well as what happened next.

UPDATE: 3 PM Eastern 15 Jan. 2012

A honeymoon couple and the chief purser, who had broken his leg, were rescued from the ship on Sunday but news of that was dampened when divers found the bodies of two elderly gentlemen.  Rescue efforts continued as there were still 15 people unaccounted for.  Meanwhile many have headed home, while preparations are being made to pump the more than 2300 tons of fuel from the vessel.  That will have to wait until the rescue operations are completed so as not to cause the vessel to shift in the water.

The investigation is just beginning to determine why the ship was so close to shore and  also what went wrong to cause the accident.   Devices similar to the "black boxes"  on airplanes will be examined for evidence.

The death toll stands at 5 with at least 64 injured following the accident which occurred around 10 PM Friday night.   Despite being compared to the Titanic, the good news is that it was not as tragic, partially due to changes made to maritime safety procedures and requirements following that disaster.

UPDATE:  5 PM Eastern 14 Jan. 2012

The ship's commander, Francesco Schettino, an 11-year Costa veteran, and a fellow officer were detained for questioning and later arrested on charges of manslaughter, according to media reports. Investigators want to know why the ship never sent out a mayday, among other things. In addition, the ship was evidently sailing between the Tuscan coast and Giglio instead of in open seas, an anomaly. 

Costa Cruise's website couldn't handle the traffic and also was out of service.  Updates are being provided on their Facebook page

Costa Cruises Statement Regarding Costa Concordia Jan. 14 - Update #2
STATEMENT 14 JAN – 5.10 am It is a tragedy that deeply affects our company. Our first thoughts go to the victims and we would like to express our condolences and our closeness to their families and friends. In this moment all our efforts are focused on the completion of the last emergency operations, besides providing assistance to the guests and the crew who were onboard in order to have them going back home as soon as possible. The emergency procedures started promptly to evacuate the ship. The slope, gradually taken over by the ship, made the evacuation extremely difficult. We would like to express our profound gratitude to the Coast Guard and all the forces co-ordinated by the Coast Guard, including the authorities and citizens of the island “Isola del Giglio”, who have been involved in the rescue and assistance to guests and crew members. The company will fully co-operate with the relevant Authorities in order to determine the causes of what happened.
 We will continue to monitor this breaking news story and provide updates.

Rescue Efforts Continue

A nighttime operation involving helicopters, ships, and lifeboats evacuated passengers to schools, churches, and other public buildings in Porto Santo Stefano where a reception centre has been established to account for all the passengers and crew. 

A team of 40 men and specialist divers are searching the scene and interior compartments of the cabins.  There are at least 50 people unaccounted for, and efforts are ongoing to identify everyone.  That task is very difficult with some passengers being picked up and housed in private homes and further complicated since passengers would not have had time to get their papers from cabins.

Costa Concordia Facts
Costa Concordia

  • Cruise Line: Costa Cruises
  • Ship Name: Costa Concordia
  • Ship Class/Group: Concordia Class
  • Year Built: 2006
  • Year Entered Fleet: 2006
  • Country of Registry: Italy
  • Tonnage (GRT): 114,500
  • Pax (basis 2): 3,000
  • Max Pax (w/Uppers): 3,780
  • Passenger Decks: 14
  • Number of Crew: 1,100
  • Officers' Nationality: Italian
  • Cruise/Hotel Staff Nationality: International

Cruise Industry Safety Record

It saddens us to be reporting this tragic accident, and our hearts and prayers go out to the passengers and families of those involved.  When an accident of this scale occurs, it is front page news and rightfully so.  We would be remiss, however, if we didn't also report the positive side of this incident and the overall safety record of the cruise industry.   First let's take a look at the safety record:

The cruise industry maintains an excellent safety record. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, cruising today is one of the safest modes of transportation, and the industry is constantly striving to improve its safety procedures. Over the past two decades, an estimated 90 million passengers safely enjoyed a cruise vacation. In 1996, the U.S. Coast Guard conducted a comprehensive safety study that concluded the cruise industry is the safest form of commercial transportation and that international safety initiatives being undertaken should further improve its safety record.   Read more about safety initiatives here.

Mandatory Safety Drills

Just like on an airplane, before the ship departs, a mandatory safety drill is held by the ship's captain and crew.   The purpose of the drill is to familiarize passengers with the safety procedures and location of the lifeboats and assembly stations.

The picture here is courtesy of a passenger onboard the Costa Concordia at the time of the evacuation.  As you can see, passengers are wearing the life jackets, which are glowing in the dark.   Emergency lighting illuminates the assembly area, and crew members are providing instructions.   (Click the picture for complete image and credits).

This scene, despite being in the middle of a real emergency, shows the safety procedures in work.   One must only think back to 1912 when a similar incident, involving the infamous Titanic, didn't have sufficient lifeboats, life jackets, and the safety procedures and equipment which today's ships utilize.  There will undoubtedly be more deaths and injuries resulting from today's tragedy, but by comparison, the story will have a much better outcome.

For those with upcoming cruises, it would not be unexpected for you to have concerns following an incident like this.   For any of our clients that have those concerns, we will be happy to discuss the situation with you.  Keep in mind that safety is the number one concern of the entire industry.   We have written time and time again about cancellations and itinerary changes made in the abundance of caution.   The industry will learn from this unfortunate accident, and additional improvements will undoubtedly be implemented.

About Costa Cruises:

Considered to be Europe's #1 cruise line, Costa Cruises has been owned by Carnival Corporation since 1997. Its fleet spans the globe, offering cruises of seven nights and longer to the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Northern Europe, South America and Transatlantic crossings. With its signature "Cruising Italian Style", Costa attracts cruisers from all parts of the globe, especially America, Canada, South America and Europe.  Read More: Costa Cruises - Cruising Italian Style

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