Jane Archer: Will this sink the cruise industry?
Until this weekend, the name Costa Concordia would have meant very little to anyone outside Italy. Many Italians would have known of it; it was, after all, one of the flagships of their largest cruise line, Costa Cruises. But in the space of a couple of hours late on Friday, when the ship hit rocks off the island of Giglio, all that changed. By the early hours of Saturday morning, it was being compared to the Titanic.
True, the disaster was on a different scale -- while there are at least six dead and 16 missing from Costa Concordia out of the 4,234 passengers and crew, more than 1,500 died when the Titanic sank. And the Costa Concordia was never hailed as unsinkable; no one was going to make that mistake again.
But there was a general understanding that over the past century lessons had been learnt about safety at sea; that modern vessels, equipped with the latest navigational and satellite equipment, would be safe from hidden rocks -- certainly in waters around the Italian coast, where numerous cruise ships like Costa Concordia sail throughout the year.