Tragedy on the Sea

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Last night, as passengers aboard the elegant Costa Concordia luxury cruise liner were enjoying dinner and shows, tragedy struck.  The boat had left the port of Civitavecchia just hours earlier and was sailing up the western coast of Italy to Savona, when it hit rock near the tiny Isola del Giglio off the coast of Tuscany.  At first, passengers were told that it was just mechanical issues that caused the lights to go out, but soon it became evident that this was truly an emergency when the boat began listing to its side.  Panic began to ensue, and passengers rushed to the decks for instruction.  But, ala Titanic, the emergency was not handled as it should have been and at least 3 people have already lost their lives.  Evidently, the passengers had not been drilled yet on emergency evacuations (that was to happen this morning), and the crew didn’t seem to be prepared for the emergency, either.  Lifeboats were not immediately put into the water, and only after some seasoned cruise -goers raised a stink, did the crew begin to employ life saving measures.  Some passengers jumped into the icy waters, while others waited for emergency evacuation by the Coast Guard, Navy, and Air Force.  Most of the 4000 people on board the ship made it to safety, but about 50 are still unaccounted for.

Once on shore, the tiny island of about 1700 residents was inundated by emergency personnel and evacuated passengers.  The passengers were mostly dressed in light clothing and needed to be taken care of.  Some were taken to a middle school where they were given blankets and some warm tea and bread.  But the mayor of Isola del Giglio implored to his residents “If you have a roof, please open your doors!”

Currently, most of the passengers have been taken to Santo Stefano for emergency treatment and they will later be taken to Rome to be housed in hotels.  Of the missing, they are hoping that they are being housed in people’s homes in Giglio.  The capsized boat sits off the coast of the tiny island, and engineers are already saying that they do not know how they will move the ship because of its location.  Right now, though, the main focus is the well-being of the passengers and making sure that everyone can be accounted for.

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