Italy News, Italian cruise ship crash, survivors left haunted 10 years after Italian cruise ship disaster
On the evening of January 13, 2012, Umberto Trotti heard the terrified cries of his wife and baby in the lifeboat below and threw himself from the capsizing Italian cruise ship.
The Costa Concordia, a vast luxury liner, ran aground off the Italian island of Giglio and rocked in freezing waters, in a disaster that claimed 32 lives.
There had been no room for Trotti in the lifeboat carrying his wife Fjorda and two young children, but hearing their panic as the ship was launched, he jumped down to join them.
“It was instinct, my family needed me. I jumped, three or four meters (10 or 13 feet). I landed on a big German, poor thing,” Trotti told AFP .
The family were unsure if they should return to Giglio for a ceremony on Thursday and a candlelight procession marking 10 years since the disaster.
The ship’s horns will sound and the church bells will ring at 9:45 p.m. (2045 GMT) to mark the moment the liner, owned by Costa Crociere, a subsidiary of US giant Carnival, hit an outcrop, after Captain Francesco Schettino ordered a navigation. “hello” to the Tuscan island.
Trotti, 44, and Fjorda, 33, were on their honeymoon.
“It was supposed to be the best experience of our lives,” he said.
“Those not on board will never understand. I was so shocked, I was walking like a zombie.”
The liner, carrying 4,229 people from 70 countries, ran aground while many passengers were having dinner.
Schettino, later sentenced to 16 years for the sinking, was slow to sound the alarm.
The evacuation began more than an hour after the collision, by which time the lifeboats on one side were inoperable.
“We were saved by a leader,” says Trotti. They were in the blue and gold Ristorante Milano when the ship made landfall.
Paolo Maspero, still wearing his hat, “took my six-month-old son in his arms. The water was coming”.
“If he hadn’t come for us, we would have died,” said Trotti, who couldn’t swim.
Footage later shot by the coastguard would show divers in the sunken restaurant, battling wreckage, looking for victims.
People in the Vienna bar were listening to pianist Antimo Magnotta, who fell off his stool as the ship rocked.
He found himself surrounded by terrified passengers demanding answers.
“A woman approached me carrying two very small children. She was like a tiger, a lion, she almost attacked me. She said to me ‘you have to tell me what to do to save my children'” , he told AFP.
Magnotta, who wrote a book called ‘The Pianist of the Costa Concordia’, said he had done what he was trained to do, and reassured passengers the captain would make an announcement.
“I promised them. But Schettino never spoke. It was a huge betrayal,” he said.
The electricity failed, and as it became increasingly difficult to walk on the rolling ship, a series of “hellish” blackouts began.
“People disappeared in the dark and then reappeared. They shouted ‘Mom, where are you?’ .
He finally made it down the side of the ship. Two of his friends died that night.
Suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, the musician moved to London and found work as a waiter at the café at the Victoria and Albert Museum, which luckily had a piano.
Months later, he persuaded his manager to let him play and got a permanent gig.
Ten years later he wants to return to Giglio to play for the locals. But he is unable to forgive Schettino “for never apologizing”.
The former captain was convicted in 2015 of multiple counts of manslaughter, causing a maritime accident and abandoning ship before all passengers and crew had been evacuated.
Schettino – dubbed “Captain Coward” in the media – appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. His lawyers are expected to request this year that he serve the remainder of his sentence at home for good behavior.
Kevin Rebello, 47, refused to judge Schettino, despite the death of his younger brother on board.
The body of Russel, a 32-year-old waiter, was found three years after the disaster, when the rusty wreckage was dismantled.
He had been ill that night. “He was in his cabin when it was flooded with water,” Rebello told AFP.
“He rushed barefoot in shorts and met a friend who lent him some clothes…He helped people into lifeboats.
“He was still helping them when the ship suddenly overturned and people fell into the water. No one saw him after that.”
Reliving the disaster is “incredibly difficult”, but Rebello returns to Giglio for the anniversary.
“It’s like a second home for me. I feel close to my brother when I’m there,” he said.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)