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Wednesday 27 August 2014

Singer recalls trauma on cruise ship

Peter Woodman

Published 12/01/2013 | 11:02

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A BRITISH singer spoke today of her trauma one year on from the Costa Concordia cruise ship tragedy.

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Amelia Leon, 23, from Brockley, south London, was a singer on another cruise ship and was visiting her crewman boyfriend when the Costa Concordia hit rocks off Italy.



Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, Ms Leon doubts whether she will ever be able to sing on a cruise ship again.



She said she thinks "every day" of the tragedy, in which 32 people lost their lives, as she recalled the "panic and confusion" as the ship turned on its side on January 13 2012.



Now seeing a psychologist, Ms Leon said: "I still have flashbacks and get migraines and panic attacks. I think about what happened every day and I've found it difficult to move on.



"I don't think I'll ever be able to sing on a cruise ship again because I'm too scared to get on a boat - not because I think it will sink, because I know that is unlikely, but because I don't want to be reminded of what happened. I just don't want to feel trapped again."



She went on: "I think it's really important that cruise companies learn from this and make safety improvements so that others don't have to suffer what we had to, I wouldn't want anyone to go through our experience.



"Luckily me and my ex-boyfriend escaped in a lifeboat but others weren't so lucky. I remember seeing mothers throwing their babies on to lifeboats and just complete panic and confusion. No one knew what was happening."



A total of 37 British passengers and crew were aboard the vessel. They included a troupe of eight dancers. All Britons survived.



One Briton, Phoebe Jones, from Walton-on- Thames in Surrey, aged 20, was on stage performing a magic show when the ship ran aground.



At the time she said: "The ship went on a huge, huge lean. Suddenly there was a blackout and everything from the stage crashed to one side."



A number of the Britons are being represented by law firm Irwin Mitchell which is seeking damages from the Costa Cruises company.



The ship's captain, Francesco Schettino - and others - face trial over the disaster.



Earlier this week the captain told the Italian press he had been "painted worse" than Osama bin Laden.



Safety regulations have been tightened following the disaster which, with more than 4,000 people aboard, could have been far worse.



Steph Curtin, cruise development manager of travel agent bonvoyage.co.uk, said: "The Costa Concordia tragedy thrust the cruise industry into the media spotlight, with many saying it would be difficult for it to recover.



"Almost instantly safety procedures were reviewed by all of the major cruise lines and across the year they were changed where necessary, with the most notable improvement being that a muster drill must take place before the ship sails.



"I think the fact that cruise lines have treated the tragedy as a high priority and have re-examined and reinforced safety regulations on board has quickly helped to rebuild confidence in cruise holidays."



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