Monday, February 13, 2012

Costa Concordia One Month Later

Rescue operations: Salvage and rescue operations on the Costa Concordia 
have been faced with a new obstacle after snow fell on the west coast of 
Italy at Giglio island                                                                Credit: Reuters

Costa Concordia In Memorium
May they Rest in Peace

Today in the Tuscany village of Giglio island, people gathered for a memorial service honoring the victims and missing of the Costa Concordia accident.  To date, 17 victims have been found and 15 are still unaccounted for and presumed lost.  One month later, it is fitting to pause and remember all the victims of this tragedy.

Family members, of people still missing, boarded a small boat that took them 50 meters from the stricken cruise ship, where they tossed bouquets of red roses into the sea.

Among family members at the scene of the tragedy was Susy Albertini, the mother of 5-year-old Dayana Arlotti, who was traveling with her father William, who is also missing. Kevin Rebello, the brother of a missing waiter from India, also attended, as did the families of missing French and German passengers.

One month later, they have not given up hope. "I haven't lost hope yet, anything can still happen, a miracle. He may be injured, he may have lost consciousness, anything may have happened. I still have hope, I always have hope, hope is the last thing to die," Rebello said. "I hope I will find him as soon as possible, to bring him home."

"The feeling that has always been with me during these 30 days and today is sorrow. Sorrow for those who died, for those who are missing," said the Rev. Lorenzo Pasquotti. 

On Sunday, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, and other senior officials, attended a memorial mass in Rome for the victims of last month's shipwreck of the Costa Concordia. The mass in the central Basilica of St Mary of the Angels was presided over by the secretary general of Italy's Catholic episcopal council, Bishop Mariano Crociata.
What should have been a happy evening January 13th for more than 4,200 people, quickly turned to sadness as the ship sailed by in salute to the people of Giglio and struck the rocky coastline.  It began to fill with water from the gash torn into the hull.  After much confusion, the order was finally given to abandon ship.

Ongoing Updates - we continue to provide updates on significant developments

The World Watched

Through the miracles of modern technology, we had a front row seat for the unfolding story of the sunken cruise liner.  Rescue workers braved the chilly Mediterranean waters and put their lives on the line to try to find missing passengers and crew.   Images and video emerged showing real-time footage of everything from passengers waiting to abandon ship, to the aftermath with all the activity in the port.

Captain Francesco Schettino, who was in command of the vessel,  has come under fire for his actions during the crisis.  Among those vivid images we saw the captain arrested and taken away by Italian authorities.   Since that time, he has been put under house arrest and has begun answering questions posed to him by the court.   He has already been "tried and convicted" in the court of public opinion and even Costa Cruises has distanced itself from him.

Hampered by Bad Weather

Search and rescue operations began once the abandoned ship order was given and continued around the clock for days.   In the middle of the second week following the accident, the weather changed, making it hazardous for rescue operations to continue.   About the same time, there  was growing concern that the fuel oil could contaminate the pristine Tuscany waters and preparation activities began to remove the fuel.  The actual start of the fuel extraction didn't occur until yesterday, nearly  a month since the tragedy.

The bad weather halted further searches for bodies. There are 15 people still unaccounted for and presumed to have perished in the accident.   Identification and notification of the remains that were recovered was difficult in most cases.  

For the families of the remaining victims, there is no closure.  It was just announced that the family of missing Minnesota couple, Gerald and Barbara Heil, plan to hold a memorial for them next weekend to celebrate their life.  

Untold Stories

There are many untold stories from the events that started a month ago today.   Over time, the truth will hopefully come out explaining what went wrong.   More importantly, measures will be put in place to prevent something like this from happening ever again.

National Geographic premiered Italian Cruise Ship Disaster: The Untold Stories  last night which weaves accounts of the tragedy from passengers, crew members and the Coast Guard and features never-before-seen video and CGI to reconstruct the ship's sinking as it happened.  An encore presentation of the documentary will be aired tonight at 10 PM Eastern.

In the days and months ahead, we will learn more about this event and the heroism that was exhibited by the various emergency responders.  In all of our lives there are historic events that stand out and are remembered.  Ask an American, who was alive at the time, where they were when President Kennedy was shot or where they were on 9/11, and they can tell you.  This too will be remembered.

Today, we pause to remember

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