Italians shocked by cruise liner mishap as death toll rises to 5
On Sunday afternoon...
The number of victims in the Italian cruise liner sinking increased to five on Sunday, while the country was shocked as particulars emerged on the absurd dynamics of the tragedy, according to Xinhua.
The 290-meter-long Costa Concordia vessel, with more than 4,200 people from about 60 countries and regions on broad, on Friday night hit a reef and tore a 70-meter crack in its hull, which left it half submerged in shallow waters near the Giglio island, a resort 25 km off Italy`s western coast.
On Sunday afternoon, coast guard divers searching the submerged part of the vessel found the bodies of two elderly men, an Italian and a Spanish, still in their life jackets, which raised to five the death toll, local reports said.
Two French tourists and a Peruvian crew member had been found dead on Saturday.
The country exulted for a moment when the hotel director of the ship, 57-year-old Marrico Giampetroni, was unexpectedly rescued from the vessel 36 hours after the accident occurred, as divers heard his voice while they were searching probing the dark.
"I experienced a 36-hour nightmare, but I had always hoped I would be saved," said the survivor, who got cracking at rescuing other passengers until he remained trapped in the ship, according to ANSA news agency.
In the early morning on Sunday, two other people, a young couple of South Koreans on their honeymoon, were found in good conditions in a cabin inside the liner.
But in the evening, 17 people were still missing, while over 60 were being treated in hospitals, local reports said.
A major investigation was opened on the tragic event, occurred shortly after the ship leaving the Civitavecchia port near Rome to start a seven-day Mediterranean cruise.
The vessel of Italian company Costa Cruises, the largest European cruise line, as well as the black box that recorded communications with coastal guards, have been controlled by local authorities.
Captain Francesco Schettino was arrested for manslaughter and abandoning ship, and now risked a 15-year term in prison, according to local media.
He denied any wrongdoing, claiming "the rock the ship impacted with was not marked in the nautical chart," but local authorities said he was largely responsible for the sinking, as he came close only 150 meters from the Giglio Island very awkwardly.
Moreover, the captain reportedly gave the alarm over one hour after the crash, and left the cruise liner before evacuation was completed six hours later, also refusing to go back to the ship and supervise rescue operations as urged by coast authorities.
A number of people told reporters that there were terrible scenes of panic resembling the Titanic tragedy which happened some 100 years ago as the crew failed to give instructions on how to leave the ship, not even being able to speak in Italian or English.
Nearly one third of the passengers were Italians, followed by Germans and French, there were also Americans as well as Britons, Canadians, Indians, Filipinos, Japanese and Chinese.
Divers were still carrying out extensive searches on Sunday evening, hoping the liner not to slide deeper into the sea.
"We are still searching, but in the hope that there might have been an air pocket," coast guard official Cosimo Nicastro told Sky television channel.