Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Titanic Tragedy: Costa Concordia

The ship that sank 100 years ago, on April 15th, was named RMS Titanic. But it had several nicknames: The Unsinkable Ship, The Last Word in Luxury, The Millionaire’s Special, The Wonder Ship, and The Ship of Dreams. It is doubtful we will see any ships with those kinds of nicknames ever again.

In the next few months, I thought, various essays would begin to appear about the Titanic.

Therefore, it was a surprise to receive a "breaking news" email from a friend about the events of last Friday the 13th, hinting at a new Titanic mess.

Brad Steiger is a well-known author of Fortean and related books. I wrote a "Foreword" to his reprinted edition of Strange Guests (NY: Anomalist Books, 2006), and recently have assisted with a bit of data in his and his wife Sherry's forthcoming updated edition of Conspiracies and Secret Societies.
I had been too busy to watch most of the news last week. But then something in the background was alerting me to be aware. News was beginning to tell of a cruise ship, the Costa Concordia, having hit rocks Friday night just off Italy's western coast. As I was just beginning to hear about the wreck, my buddy Brad sent this along: "Our daughter Kari's husband, Daniele, is a ranking officer in the carabineri, the Italian military police. For the last several years he has commanded a patrol boat. In the note [below] from Kari, who teaches English in Italy, she points out that the patrol boat in this news photo of the capsized cruise happens to be Daniele's."
6:50pm Jan 14
Last night at about 11:15, Daniele was awakened for an emergency. A cruise ship was in distress near the the Island of Giglio, about 2 hours from here. He was sleeping as they were scheduled for a normal night shift starting at 3am. They had no information, so I was was online and getting info off news reports before they arrived on scene. As you can see, the ship is totally on its side. The little boat happens to be Daniele's. They were finally relieved late this afternoon, so they could eat and sleep. Almost everyone is accounted for, but a couple hours ago, two more people were found on board the ship, still alive.
I began looking at photos being sent from the site of the wreck, and quickly saw this one (below), also apparently showing Steiger's son-in-law's boat.

It was one of those "small world" moments that drew me into this story more deeply. After all, this was not your ordinary story, as passengers were beginning to describe a chaotic and surreal scene as they rushed to evacuate the Costa Concordia (= "Coast Concord"). And now I was getting word that the degrees of separation from this awful scene were hardly a world away.

I was immediately reminded of how shocked I also once was to discover that another Fortean friend, author (of over 100 books) and correspondent Daniel Cohen was tragically tied to the Lockerbie tragedy. His daughter Theodora was a passenger on Pan Am Flight 103, and Daniel and his wife Susan would become major spoke people on behalf of the families of the 270 victims of that Lockerbie terrorism attack.

Irony? Coincidence? Fortean? "A passenger has revealed that the Celine Dion song 'My Heart Will Go On,' made famous by the 1997 film Titanic, was playing in one of the ill-fated cruise ship's restaurants at the very moment the [Costa Concordia's] hull was ripped open," wrote the Huffington Post. (The ear witnesses were said to be two Swiss brothers, Yannic and Keven Sgaga.)

Andrew W. Griffin has covered much of the comparative ground between the Titanic and the Costa Concordia at his insightful blog posting, "A night to remember in a year we'll never forget."

His comparison photos are worthy of reproducing to entice you to go read what he has to say:
An image of the Costa Concordia starting to sink off the Italian island of Giglio. 
Red Dirt Report/Gawker.

A rendering of the Titanic [the movie version?] as it sinks bow-first into the 
North Atlantic on April 14-15, 1912. Red Dirt Report/Dimensions Guide.

As the weekend went by, other photographs from the wreck of the Costa Concordia appeared that were remarkable to view, especially, as the images naturally reminded many of us of the Titanic.
One of the rocks in the hull.
A longer view of the damaged area.
The location of the disaster.
The stories of panic and less-than-organized efforts from the crew to rescue the passengers have been reinforced with images from cellphones.
The local police and coast guards were the heroes of the day. Meanwhile, the ship's captain allegedly left the ship before all were accounted for.
Some tales were truly scary.
Several passengers recounted how they had been watching a magic show when the ship ran aground, and the magician ran offstage leaving his assistant in a box. Finally, after some frantic moments, she was able to get someone to undo a latch releasing her. Rosalyn Rincon (shown above), from Blackpool, was trapped in the magic box as the Costa Concordia began to sink.
Crew, such as this young woman, were in other parts of the ship, when it went aground. Dancer Rose Metcalf, 22, was one of the last people to leave the Costa Concordia.

Captain Francesco Schettino is under arrest and may face charges that include manslaughter, shipwreck and abandoning a ship when passengers were still on board, chief prosecutor Francesco Verusio said. Abandoning ship has a sentence of 12 years in prison for a full conviction in Italy.

Costa is a subsidiary of the American-Israeli company, Carnival Corporation & plc. Its Israeli-born chief executive, Micky Arison, said on Twitter that his thoughts and prayers were with the passengers and crew.

Reports are still giving confusing totals, in terms of the dead and the missing. As of Wednesday, January 18, 2012, the death toll is reported to be at 11, and the number of missing is said to be 22 or 24 or 28, in various accounts. The bodies of five adult passengers — four men and one woman, all wearing lifejackets — were discovered in the wreckage Tuesday, raising the death toll to 11. Italian authorities on Wednesday identified the 24 passengers and four crew still missing, a number that includes the six bodies found since Monday. None of the dead have been identified. The missing included 13 Germans, six Italians, four French, two Americans and one person each from Hungary, India and Peru.
Another Titanic "coincidence" was mentioned in the London Telegraph's article on January 18, 2012:

News about the Titanic theme tune followed the revelation on Tuesday that an Italian grand daughter of a Titanic survivor was on board the Costa Concordia when it capsized.
"It was like reliving history, it was horrible, I was really shocked," said Valentina Capuano, 30, who managed to escape when the giant vessel foundered.
"I am still shaken up and get very upset when I think about what I've been through, I have heart palpitations," said Miss Capuana, who escaped the sinking vessel along with her fiancé, her brother and his girlfriend.
Her grandmother also survived the Titanic disaster but lost her brother....
The Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York in 1912.
Valentina Capuano
Capuana's grandmother's brother Giovanni, who had been working as a waiter on the Titanic and hoped to begin a new life in America, was one of the 1,517 people who died in the disaster. In the official list of victims of the sinking of the Titanic, there is a Sig. Giovanni Basilico, 27, waiter, who died, but his body was never recovered. Valentina Capuano mentioned her grandmother's name was Maria. (No "Maria Capuano" or "Maria Basilico" or anyone with the first name "Maria" born in Italy is to be found in the list of survivors. She must have used a different name.)

The first victim of the wreck of the Costa Concordia has been identified as violinist Sándor Fehér, 38, who was among 11 people confirmed dead from the ship that carried 4,200 passengers.

Sándor Fehér
Fehér had helped a number of crying children to put on lifejackets, and he was wearing a lifejacket himself when he apparently went back to his cabin to pack his violin, pianist Jozsef Balog said, according to Laurie Niles at Niles also noted that Fehér came from a musical family -- both his father and grandfather played the violin -- and started playing the violin when he was six years old. He graduated in 1998 from the Franz Lizst Academy in Budapest, where he studied with László Dénes.

In reality in 1912 and as shown in the James Cameron film Titanic, as the great ship sank 100 years ago, the musicians played "Autumn" and died. They were honored for their courage with large funerals (some numbering 40,000 attendees) and memorials.
The difference in death tolls between the two ships is great and this need not be overlooked.  The Titanic’s death toll was 1,517. The Costa Concordia’s death toll, at the time of this writing, is eleven. Relative percentage of Deaths: Titanic 68 percent vs. Costa Concordia .25%, one-quarter of 1 percent.

The Costa Concordia was actually bigger than the TitanicThe Titanic was 882 feet and 8 inches long (268 meters) and had a tonnage of 46,000. The Costa Concordia was larger, with a tonnage of 114,500 and a length of 951 feet and 5 inches (290 m). The width of the Titanic was 92.5 feet (28 m), compared with 118 feet (36 m) for the Costa Concordia.


aferrismoon said...

With refernce to your previous 'clown' post, the owners of Costa Concordia are the Carnival Corporation.

Celine - C-Line - Sea Line ?


Rahul said...

Why did the sonar did not detect immediate land under belly. I doubt the Captain was getting BJ from someone in his cabin or doing someone, very normal for captains on such ships to flirt with women on board take them to cabin.

Anonymous said...

re: Carnival:
Carnival= carro navale 'Naval Car (or boat/barque)'

It refers to the naval boat in the sky (Sun) whose passage across the solstices is celebrated in mid-winter as the the new year festival. Babilonian I believe.

Ajlounyinjurylaw said...

Its the titanic all over again. Wonder if it was something that could have been avoided.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness this did not take place in the middle of nowhere & near the coastline.