SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

July 16, 2013

Crews rush to move ship

(Continued)

Just inside the gashed area were four compartments designed to be water-tight, including engine rooms, Sloane noted.

At the very top level of the luxury liner, just over the area where the reef speared the ship like a jagged knife, was the passenger dining room. Its big picture windows gave diners a view of the lights of Giglio as the Concordia tried to glide close to the coast, the inky blackness of a winter’s night view broken only by the lights in islanders’ houses.

Survivors have recounted how, many of them dressed in cocktail dresses and suits, were just sitting down for a gala first-night meal when the collision occurred, setting off panic and confusion with no quick word from the crew about what exactly had happened.

After slamming into the reef off Giglio, the ship drifted toward port, where, badly listing as it rapidly took on seawater, it capsized. Passengers described a frantic and delayed evacuation, with the bridge initially insisting to inquiring coast guardsmen that the ship had merely suffered a blackout.

Bodies of two of the victims — an Italian passenger and of a Filipino waiter — were never found.

Every day, divers “see mattresses and towels hanging from balconies. Every time they see it, they are very aware ... there are still bodies” possibly under the wreck, Sloane said. The removal projects’ divers haven’t gone into the wreckage; the futile search for the last two victims’ bodies was conducted earlier by fire department and coast guard divers.

Franco Porcellacchia, coordinator of removal plans for Costa, which is owned by Miami-based Carnival Corp., estimated that the removal would cost about 500 million euros, paid for by insurers.

Where the wreck will be towed for demolition — assuming it can be floated away — has yet to be decided, although Italian media have mentioned the Tuscan port of Piombino as a possibility. Porcellacchia said one difficulty is finding a port that can handle the cruise ship’s dimensions, which will be made even wider by the caissons that will be attached to each side.

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