Tuesday 20 February 2018

Tragedy and heroism as final moments of Costa Concordia victims revealed

By Nick Squires

COMPELLING details of the last moments of the victims of the Costa Concordia disaster - including how one five-year-old girl was turned away from a lifeboat - have emerged from a 60-page dossier deposited by prosecutors in an Italian court.

Thirty-two people died in the disaster when the 950ft-long cruise liner slammed into rocks off the Tuscan island of Giglio on the night of Jan 13, 2012.

The dossier recounts the confusion and chaos that engulfed the more than 4,000 passengers and crew as seawater flooded into a massive gash in the hull, causing the ship to list and finally roll over in shallow water.

The file was presented to a court in Grosseto, Tuscany, by prosecutors who are calling for the Concordia's skipper, Capt Francesco Schettino, to be sent to trial on charges of manslaughter and abandoning ship.

The file pieces together the final hours of victims such as Dayana Arlotti, five, and her father William Arlotti.

They died because "having not found places in a lifeboat on deck four on the port side, they were directed by members of the crew to the starboard side and while negotiating the interior of the ship they fell into a flooded area." Both drowned.

Erika Molinala, a 25-year-old barmaid from Peru, died after plunging into the sea without a lifejacket.

Giuseppe Girolamo, a musician who provided entertainment on the cruise ship, gave up his spot in a life boat in an act of heroism which cost him his life – he too fell in the water and drowned.

Maria D'Introno, a passenger, managed to get aboard a lifeboat but was then forced back onto the cruise ship because it could not be launched. As the ship sank further into the sea, she was forced to jump into the water but did not know how to swim and also drowned.

The dossier also contains a list of passengers and crew who were injured in the tragedy, as well as hundreds of people who are still suffering from insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorders.

The prosecutors reiterated claims that Capt Schettino was distracted in the minutes before the collision by the presence on the bridge of a Domnica Cemortan, a Moldovan ex-dancer.

Her presence, as well as that of the ship's head waiter, led to "confusion and distraction" on the bridge as Capt Schettino attempted to execute a salute of Giglio by sailing perilously close to its rocky shore.

An investigating judge is expected to announce in the next few weeks that Capt Schettino and several other ship's officers will be put on trial.


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