What should have been the beginning of an enjoyable Mediterranean cruise has ended with Costa Cruise line’s Costa Concordia running aground off the coast of Italy near the tiny holiday island of Isola del Giglio. On Friday evening, January 13, 2011, many of the passengers were dressed in their dinner attire and were seated in the dining room. They were in the process of eating and being served their meals when they heard a loud noise and the lights went out. Passengers were told not to panic and that it was “an electrical problem.” Passengers report that the much expected muster drill, which informs passengers of what to do in the case of an emergency, was to be performed on Saturday despite the fact that some passengers had been onboard for several days.
The captain of the ship never issued a mayday call for assistance to the Italian Coast Guard after the ship hit rocks that caused a gash in the hull some 150-160 feet wide. It was only after evacuation began that the Italian Coast Guard was involved with the rescue operation. As an investigation ensues regarding this accident, I am sure that this is something that the captain will be asked about thoroughly. It should also be noted the captain was not the last person off the ship and was reported to have gotten off in advance of the last passengers.
A total of 4,200 passengers and crew members were evacuated from the ship, a total that far outweighs the 1,500 residents of the sleepy island of Isola del Giglio. The residents, however, immediately snapped into action to assist with the rescue. From the Irish Independent:
The island’s Mayor Sergio Ortelli asked for “anyone with a roof” to open their homes to shelter the evacuees. The evacuees were also taking refuge in schools, hotels, and a church on the tiny island. Mr Paolillo said the exact circumstances of the accident were still unclear, but that the first alarm went off about 10.30pm, about three hours after the Concordia had begun its voyage from the port of Civitavecchia, en route to its first port of call, Savona, in north-western Italy.
Here is a close up video of the ship as the circle it:
As of this writing, 3 people were dead and as many as 70 passengers are still missing. Reports indicate that passengers and crew members were jumping into the water as the lifeboats were unable to descend when the ship ended up on its side. There were passengers inside lifeboats when the ship turned on its side and those people ended up stuck in the lifeboats until rescuers could reach them. Divers are inside the ship going through submerged cabins in search of anyone that may still be inside.
Our condolences go out to the families of those who died and to all of the passengers and crew members that were impacted. The cruise line has issued two official statements thus far, both of which can be seen here.