Concordia Divers Find Eight More Bodies

| Thursday, 23 Feb. 2012
The Heils, still missing


At this point it is only natural that Costa Cruises would like all of the bad news about Concordia to come to an end, but sadly divers found another eight bodies, including a five-year-old girl with her father, on a lower deck on Tuesday. The father had last been seen returning to his cabin to get some necessary medication for a recent operation. More than likely the ship shifted quickly while he was in or near his cabin and water rushed in trapping him and his daughter.

During the evacuation some people were told it was safe to return to their staterooms to await further instructions. In retrospect, any deck where a person could be trapped by water when the ship listed even further to the starboard side after grounding on the shore near Giglio was not a good place to be.

As we have watched this whole disastrous event unfold some things have become painfully clear:

One lesson is that it is best to evacuate a ship at the first opportunity, when it is still upright if at all possible. For some reason the captain, Schettino, decided to let the ship float, dead in the water, closer and closer to the island of Giglio. On a video tape just shown on the Discovery Channel he is heard saying "let's let it get to shallower water, and then if it sinks it will just sit on the bottom."

That seems like a logical outcome to hope for, but certainly not an outcome that was guaranteed or that the crew had any ability to put into action. In fact, the ship drifted until its hull hit the sloping underwater ridge of the island and then the ship tipped over – taking on water quickly as some of the open areas of the ship were suddenly under the waterline. Another lesson we have learned is that people should remain on upper decks when a ship is in crisis. A top deck where one can get out or off of the ship very quickly is a good place to be. The last place one should be is deep inside the ship, especially close to the waterline. Four of the eight bodies that were just found on Tuesday were recovered from the ship; a man, a woman, the girl and a fourth person whose gender could not be determined at the time. The death toll currently remains at 32, including the people who were missing. This indicates more bodies could be found as the search continues. So for Costa, who would like to see this matter leave the news, there is likely to be continuing coverage at least for awhile.

Making matters even worse, this is the centenary year of the Titanic, which means as April rolls around and the Titanic memorial services begin, it is inevitable that the Concordia will be back in the news.

A memorial service was just held for an American couple from Minnesota, Barbara and Gerald Heil, whose bodies have not been recovered. The couple were avid cruisers. They are the only Americans still missing. Among the dead or missing are 12 Germans, seven Italians, six French, one Spanish and crewmembers from Peru and Hungary.

Most of the victims were found in the first two weeks after the accident, and three bodies were recovered from the water a few hours after the ship stopped and listed to one side. The eight bodies discovered today were in a spot identified by some survivors as a place they knew some passengers had gone to wait for further instructions.

Captain Francesco Schettino is under house arrest at his home near Naples on charges of alleged manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning a ship with passengers and crew still onboard.

Four more ship's officers and three officials from the Italian cruise company, Costa Crociere, are also now under investigation although no charges have been filed against them yet.

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