GIGLIO, Italy – Italy marks the 10th anniversary of the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster on Thursday with a day-long commemoration that will culminate in a candlelight vigil marking the moment the ship slammed into a reef and then capsized at the off the Tuscan island of Giglio.
A midday mass in the church of Giglio pays homage to the 32 people who died in the sinking of January 13, 2012, while survivors and relatives of the dead will lay a wreath in the water where the imposing ocean liner finally came to rest on the side of Giglio. rating.
The anniversary also recalls how the residents of Giglio housed the 4,200 passengers and crew that night, then lived with the wrecked hulk of the Concordia for another two years until it was righted and transported. to scrap.
Those residents warmly welcomed Kevin Rebello on Wednesday, whose brother Russel Rebello, a Concordia server, remained missing until crews discovered his remains when the ship was dismantled in 2014 at a Genoa shipyard.
Kevin Rebello had become close to many Giglio residents during the months when divers were looking for his brother, and his return to the island on the last ferry of the day on the eve of the anniversary turned into an emotional reunion.
“My brother did his duty. He lost his life protecting others,” Kevin Rebello said when he arrived on Giglio. “I’m proud of that. And I think he would be proud of what he’s done, helping so many people.”
The anniversary comes as the cruise ship industry, shut down in much of the world for months due to the coronavirus pandemic, is once again in the spotlight due to safety-threatening COVID-19 outbreaks. passengers. Last month, the US Centers for Disease Control warned people at all levels not to go on cruises, regardless of their vaccination status, due to infection risks.
For Concordia survivors, COVID-19 infections on cruise ships are just the latest evidence that passenger safety is still not a top priority for the industry. Passengers aboard the Concordia were largely left to find life jackets and a functioning lifeboat after the captain steered the ship too close to shore into a waterfall. He then delayed an evacuation order until it was too late, with the lifeboats unable to lower into the water because the ship was listing too much.
Passenger Ester Percossi recalled being thrown to the ground in the dining room by the initial impact of the reef slashing the hull, which she said felt like “an earthquake”. The lights went out and bottles, glasses and plates flew off the tables and onto the floor.
“We got up and with a lot of effort we went out on deck and there we got the life jackets, the ones we could find, because everyone was taking them from each other, to save,” she recalls. “There was no law. Just survival and that’s it.”
Prosecutors blamed the delayed evacuation order and conflicting instructions given by the crew for the chaos that ensued as passengers scrambled to get off the listed ship. The captain, Francesco Schettino, is serving a 16-year prison sentence for manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning a ship before all passengers and crew had been evacuated.
Costa did not respond to emails seeking comment on the anniversary.
Cruise Lines International Association, the world’s largest cruise industry trade association, stressed in a statement to The Associated Press that the safety of passengers and crew is the industry’s top priority and that the cruising remains one of the safest vacation experiences available.
“Our thoughts continue to be with the victims of the Concordia tragedy and their families on this sad anniversary,” CLIA said. He said he has worked for the past 10 years with the International Maritime Organization and the maritime industry to “drive a culture of safety based on continuous improvement”.
Winfield reported from Rome.