More Bodies Reportedly Found In Wrecked Italian Cruise Ship
Date: January 17, 2012
Source: Fox News
Abstract: Five more bodies have been found in the capsized cruise ship off the coast of Italy, Sky News reports, bringing the death toll to 11.
Teams have been searching the ship for passengers and crew missing since the Costa Concordia struck rocks Friday evening and capsized. Rescuers exploded four holes in the hull of the ship earlier Tuesday to gain easier access to areas that had not yet been searched.
Divers located the five bodies, all of them adults wearing life jackets, in the rear of the ship near an emergency evacuation point, according to Italian Coast Guard Cmdr. Cosimo Nicastro. He said they were thought to have been passengers.
Before the latest find, 29 people from the cruise ship were still missing. Officials said the missing included 14 Germans, six Italians, four French, two Americans, one Hungarian, one Indian and one Peruvian.
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.
The captain of a grounded cruise ship is heard in a recording making excuses as an Italian coast guard official repeatedly orders him to get back on his crippled ship.
In a telephone conversation, the official berates the captain, who is on a lifeboat and repeatedly says he doesn't want to return to the ship even as passengers are still being evacuated. The ship struck a rock Friday evening and capsized.
The officer tells Francesco Schettino to reboard and assess the needs of passengers: "It is an order. Don't make any more excuses."
Schettino was placed under house arrest Tuesday, AFP reports.
Schettino has insisted he stayed aboard until the ship was evacuated, but the recording of his conversation with Italian Coast Guard Capt. Gregorio De Falco indicates he fled before all passengers were off -- and then resisted De Falco's repeated orders to return.
"You go on board and then you will tell me how many people there are. Is that clear?" De Falco shouted in the audio tape.
Schettino resisted, saying the ship was tipping and that it was dark. At the time, he was in a lifeboat and said he was coordinating the rescue from there.
De Falco shouted back: "And so what? You want go home, Schettino? It is dark and you want to go home? Get on that prow of the boat using the pilot ladder and tell me what can be done, how many people there are and what their needs are. Now!"
"You go aboard. It is an order. Don't make any more excuses. You have declared the abandoning of the ship, now I am in charge," De Falco shouted.
Schettino is finally heard agreeing to reboard. It is unclear whether he did.
Schettino has been jailed for investigation of manslaughter, abandoning ship and causing a shipwreck.
Prosecutors, meanwhile, prepared to question the captain, who is accused of causing the wreck and abandoning the Costa Concordia before all 4,200 people onboard were safely evacuated after the vessel capsized Friday night.
Navy spokesman Alessandro Busonero told Sky TV 24 the holes will help divers enter the wreck more easily. "We are rushing against time," he said.
The divers set four microcharges above and below the surface of the water, Busonero said. Television footage showed one hole above the waterline to be less than 6 feet in diameter.
"The hope is that the ship is empty and that the people are somewhere else, or if they are inside that they found a safe place to await rescue," Coast Guard spokesman Filippo Marini told Sky TV 24
The cruiseliner tragedy also has turned into a potential environmental crisis, with rough seas battering the stricken ship raising fears that fuel might leak into pristine waters off Giglio that are part of a sanctuary for dolphins, porpoises and whales.
Waters were relatively calm Tuesday with waves of just 30 centimeters, but they were expected to reach 1.8 meters Wednesday, according to meteorological forecasts.
The Italian Coast Guard on Monday raised the number of missing to 25 passengers and four crew. The missing appear to include a group of Germans, two Americans and six Italians. Family members have identified the Americans as Jerry Heil, 69, and his wife Barbara, 70, from White Bear Lake, Minnesota.
Italian Coast Guard official Marco Brusco said Tuesday there was still "a glimmer of hope" survivors could still be found on parts of the vast cruise liner not yet searched. The last survivor, a crewman who had broken his leg, was rescued Sunday.
The ship is carrying some 500,000 gallons of fuel on board. To date there's been no word of any leaks, but choppy waters that slightly shifted the wreckage on Monday escalated fears of one and suspended rescue operations for several hours.
The ship's operator, Costa Crociere SpA, has enlisted one of the world's leading salvagers, Smit of Rotterdam, Netherlands, to handle the removal of the 1,000-foot cruise liner and extract the fuel safely.
The cruise operator has said Capt. Francesco Schettino strayed from the ship's authorized course into waters too close to the perilous reef. The navigational version of a "fly by" was apparently a favor to the chief waiter who is from Giglio and whose parents live on the island, local media reported.
A judge is to decide Tuesday if Schettino should stay jailed. Prosecutor Francesco Verusio called Schettino's maneuver "reckless" and "inexcusable."
Miami-based Carnival Corp., which owns the Italian operator, estimated that preliminary losses from having the Concordia out of operation at least through 2012 would be between $85 million and $95 million, along with other costs. The company's share price slumped more than 16 percent Monday.
Costa Crociere chairman and CEO Pier Luigi Foschi said the company would provide Schettino with legal assistance, but he disassociated Costa from his behavior, saying it broke rules. "Capt. Schettino took an initiative of his own will which is contrary to our written rules of conduct," Foschi said.
Foschi didn't respond directly to prosecutors' and passengers' accusations that Schettino abandoned ship before all passengers had been evacuated, but he suggested his conduct wasn't as bad in the hours of the evacuation as has been portrayed. He didn't elaborate.
The Coast Guard said Schettino defied their entreaties to return to his ship as the chaotic evacuation of some 4,200 people was in progress. After the ship's tilt put many life rafts out of service, helicopters plucked to safety dozens of people still aboard, hours after Schettino was seen leaving the vessel.
The captain has insisted in an interview before his jailing that he stayed with the vessel to the end.He noted that 4,200 people managed to evacuate a listing ship at night within two hours. In addition, the ship's evacuation procedures had been reviewed last November by an outside firm and port authorities and no faults were found, he said (Fox News, 2012).
Loom Over Costa Concordia Disaster
Date: January 27, 2012
Source: USA Today
Abstract: Why the cruise ship Costa Concordia capsized remains a mystery to world maritime and salvage experts two weeks after the tragedy that left 16 people dead and 16 still missing.
Technicians pump out 2,380 tons of fuel from the cruise liner Costa Concordia on Thursday off Giglio Island in Italy.
Technicians pump out 2,380 tons of fuel from the cruise liner Costa Concordia on Thursday off Giglio Island in Italy.
The state-of-the-art ship carrying 4,200 passengers and crewmembers struck rocks off Italy's Tuscan island of Giglio on Jan. 13, opening a 160-foot hole in its side.
Experts on ships and salvage have questions about how that tear turned into the worst cruise ship disaster of recent times. Chief among them:
Why did the ship partially sink? Modern cruise ships are designed to remain afloat even after two of their water-tight compartments are breached, says Richard Pellew, who inspects cruise ships for the United Kingdom's Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
If the gash exposed three compartments or if the crew didn't properly seal them, he and others say, flooding could have spread and capsized the vessel.
Why did the ship roll on its right, or starboard side, when the gash in the vessel was on the left, or port, side? In addition to a possible failure of the water-tight compartments, wind, currents and maneuvering of the ship could tilt the wounded vessel away from the damage, says Dracos Vassalos, professor of maritime safety at Britain's University of Strathclyde.
"The internal architecture of cruise ships is so complex that even with the same effects being accounted for in … experiments, computer simulations or, indeed, in real-life accidents, we could potentially see a different outcome every time we simulate the accident," Vassalos says.
Why did the captain, Francesco Schettino, run the ship aground after it was breached? Maritime experts say that's a captain's judgment call, based on how fast water is coming aboard. Even so, the grounding raises the question of whether the Costa Concordia was that gravely imperiled or could have waited for a tow to port.
"That's not an unusual maneuver," T. Black Powell, president of JMS Naval Architects & Salvage Engineers in Mystic, Conn., says of grounding. "Typically, you're not going to do that, though, unless you've determined that the ship is lost and it's going to sink."
The ship's severe tilt after being run aground complicated the evacuation because lifeboats couldn't be lowered from one side of the ship.
"The ship listed and was inclined to a degree that didn't enable us to use boats at the side of the ship," Pier Luigi Foschi, chief executive of Costa Cruises, said Jan. 16. "The fact that the ship was listing created a very difficult situation."
The answers to these crucial questions about the Costa Concordia disaster may not be known until information from the ship's "black box" of voyage data is released by Italian prosecutors, maritime experts say.
For example, if the black box recorded orders to close water-tight compartments, that could signal that the compartments hadn't been closed beforehand as they should be for shallow-water navigation.
Maritime experts say it's unclear when information from the black box will be released because Italian prosecutors are pursuing criminal charges against Schettino. The criminal case must be resolved before any accident investigation begins.
There has been conflicting information about Schettino's actions. However, he told prosecutors Jan. 17 that after striking the rocks he continued maneuvering the ship, before grounding the ship on a submerged reef.
The ultimate findings are likely to spur greater safety precautions, which some experts say are needed."Considering the number of individuals that are being carried, certainly this should be a shot across the bow that things need to change," says Jim Hall, former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, which investigates maritime disasters in the USA (USA Today, 2012).
Cocaine Found On Cruise Ship Captain's Hair
Date: February 19, 2012
Abstract: Experts and lawyers representing survivors of the capsized Costa Concordia cruise ship want further drug tests on the ship's captain after the discovery of cocaine on the outside of a hair sample. A forensic analyst involved in the case reportedly described the finding as no more than a "marginal problem". The full test results given to investigators show that the drug was not found within his hair or in his urine, which would have indicated that he had used it.
But lawyers want clarification, claiming the samples from Captain Francesco Schettino may have been contaminated or mislabelled. The Italian consumer protection group Codacons is representing some survivors from the shipwreck of the cruise liner, which rammed a reef near a Tuscan island on the night of 13 January. It called the findings "very strange". The group's spokesman, Stefano Zerbi, said Codacons was raising the possibility with prosecutors that samples had been poorly preserved, leading to the confusing results. Under Italian law, those attaching civil suits to a criminal case must be informed of, and allowed to monitor, evidence and other developments in the probe.
Prosecutors are investigating Captain Schettino for alleged manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning his ship before all passengers and crew were evacuated. Up to 32 people are believed to have died, including 15 whose bodies have not been found.The Costa Concordia's hull was pierced by the reef after the ship cruised close to the island of Giglio. Captain Schettino has claimed that the reef was not on maritime maps, but the reef is well known to sailors. He also insisted that he didn't abandon the cruise liner (Independent, 2012).
Divers Find 8 More Bodies In Ship Wreckage
Date: February 22, 2012
Source: Fox News
Abstract: Divers searching the capsized Costa Concordia cruise ship found eight bodies Wednesday on one of the passenger decks, including that of a missing 5-year-old Italian girl, authorities said.
Italy's national civil protection agency, which is monitoring the operation off a Tuscan island, said four of the bodies had been recovered -- those of a woman, a girl, a man and a person whose sex could not immediately be determined. Because of worsening weather, the divers were unable to immediately remove the other four bodies. That operation will resume Thursday, if seas are calm.
The bodies were being transferred to a hospital on the mainland for identification, a process which could take days. Before Wednesday's development, 15 people were listed as missing, but only one of them -- Dayana Arlotti -- was a child.
Dayana was on the Mediterranean cruise with her Italian father and his girlfriend. The girlfriend survived, while the father, Williams Arlotti, was among the missing.
The death toll, which includes those missing -- presumed dead -- and bodies already recovered, stands at 32.
Among the missing passengers are an elderly American couple from Minnesota, Barbara and Gerald Heil, and Dayana's father. Others are from Germany and France. The one missing crew member is from India.
The father had a history of health problems, and was said by family to be traveling to celebrate a new lease on life -- he had received a kidney and pancreas transplant. Some witnesses told media that they last saw him during the evacuation as he headed back to his cabin to retrieve lifesaving medication.
The Concordia, which
was carrying some 4,200 passengers and crew, struck a reef off the Tuscan
island of Giglio on Jan. 13, took on water and started listing badly until it
lay on its side.
Giglio is a tiny island of fishermen and tourist hotels, famed for pristine waters, coral reefs and a variety of marine life, including whales and dolphins.
Most of the victims were found on the capsized ship in the first two weeks after the accident.
Three corpses were recovered from the water a few hours after the capsizing.
Officials coordinating search efforts said divers on Wednesday went into an area where survivors had told rescuers that some passengers had gathered to await evacuation. Many of the ship's lifeboats couldn't be launched after the ship leaned heavily on one side.
Helicopters lowered the divers onto the above-water section of the Concordia. They then scrambled down the side and swam through openings into the wreckage.
Diving search experts from France, Sweden and Britain have said they plan to meet with the Italian diving teams to lend assistance. Decomposing refuse and floating furniture inside the submerged ship have complicated their work.
In the first days after the accident, Dayana's mother had been quoted as saying she was holding out hope that her little girl somehow survived. After word came Wednesday that the child's body had been seen, she was reported to be heading to the hospital where the bodies were brought.
"I can't say if the mother was freed from a nightmare or not," her lawyer, Davide Veschi, told Sky TG24 TV.
The Concordia struck the reef when it veered too close to the island while passengers were having dinner in the ship's main dining hall.
The captain, Francesco Schettino, is under house arrest at his home near Naples. He is being investigated for alleged manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship while passengers and crew were still onboard.
He denies abandoning the vessel, and contends the reef wasn't marked on navigational charts, although sailors say its location is well known and on tourist maps. Another of the ship's officers is also under investigation.
Italian news reports said Wednesday that Tuscan prosecutors were in the process of notifying other persons that they were formally being investigated, including four ship's officers and three officials from the Italian cruise company, Costa Crociere.
On Sunday, salvage experts finished extracting roughly two-thirds of the fuel from tanks on the more accessible part of the wreck, which is resting on a rocky ledge of seabed.Authorities said that weather permitting, operations to remove fuel from other tanks might resume on Thursday (Fox News, 2012).