For Concordia survivors, the COVID-19 infections on cruise ships are just the latest evidence that passenger safety still isn’t a top priority for the industry. Passengers aboard the Concordia were largely left on their own to find life jackets and a functioning lifeboat after the captain delayed an evacuation order until it was too late: many lifeboats were unable to lower to the water because the ship was listing too heavily.
Church bells rang out as a commemorative Mass got underway in the Giglio church to honor the 32 people who died in the Jan. 13, 2012, shipwreck. It was the same church that opened its doors and took in hundreds of survivors on that freezing cold night, giving them shelter after they had arrived on shore in lifeboats, some of them having shimmied down the side of the liner.
“I invite you to have the courage to look forward,” Grosseto Bishop Giovanni Roncari told relatives of the dead, survivors and the Coast Guard officials who helped coordinate the rescue that night. “Hope doesn’t cancel the tragedy and pain, but it teaches us to look beyond the present moment without forgetting it.”
Under a brilliant sun and blue sky, survivors and relatives later planned to place a wreath in the water where the hulking liner finally came to rest on its side off Giglio’s coast. The Concordia’s captain, Francesco Schettino, is serving a 16-year prison sentence for having ordered the crew to take the ship off course to come closer to Giglio in a stunt. He then delayed an evacuation order and abandoned ship before all the passengers and crew were evacuated.
© Copyright LaPresse