The Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia ran aground and overturned after striking an underwater rock off Isola del Giglio, Italy, resulting in 32 deaths. About 300 passengers were left on board, most of whom were rescued by helicopter or motorboats in the area.
An investigation focused on shortcomings in the procedures followed by Costa Concordia’s crew and the actions of her captain, Francesco Schettino, who left the ship prematurely.
The apparently negligent and irresponsible behaviour of captain Francesco Schettino – who is said to have sailed so close to the island in order to give a ‘salute’ to an old friend and as a favour for a member of his crew – were proven.
Schettino was later found guilty of manslaughter in connection with the disaster and sentenced to sixteen years in prison.
It has come to symbolise the entire disaster – the furious command barked down a phone line by a Coast Guard official Gregorio de Falco to the captain of the Costa Concordia Schettino to get back on the ship and take command of the mass evacuation.
Passengers were in the dining hall when there was a sudden, loud bang, which a crew member, speaking over the intercom, ascribed to ‘electrical failure.’ ‘We told the guests everything was [okay] and under control and we tried to stop them panicking’, a cabin steward recalled.
Coincidentally, when the ship first made impact with the rock, it was claimed that the Celine Dion Titanic theme song ‘My Heart Will Go On’ was playing in a restaurant.
The ship lost cabin electrical power shortly after the initial collision. ‘The boat started shaking. The noise – there was panic, like in a film, dishes crashing to the floor, people running, falling down the stairs and saying cazzo,’ said a survivor. Those on board said the ship suddenly tilted to the port side.