|Photo by Susan J. Young|
Search efforts resumed Thursday onboard Costa Concordia in Giglio, Italy. According to a BBC report, Filippo Marini, an Italian Coast Guard spokesman, says the ship has stabilized and divers are now back in the water.
Marini said more explosives will be set off to open up more access points into the ship, so that searchers can look for more people.
Eleven people are confirmed dead. First of the dead to be identified on Wednesday was a Hungarian entertainer, Sandor Feher, 38, who apparently was a violinist onboard Costa Concordia. After helping children put on life vests, he apparently went back down into the ship to retrieve his violin case.
More than 20 people are still missing. One woman initially on the missing list was found alive at home in Germany. When she discovered she was on the missing list, she identified herself to authorities at a German police station.
Passenger and Crew Arrangements
Earlier in the week, some guests complained to the news media about Costa’s post-accident assistance to passengers. Some said the U.S. Embassy provided taxis and emergency assistance, while others said they were put up in hotels and assumed Costa was paying for the arrangements, but had not yet heard from the company.
One family that survived the accident and took a flight from Italy into Atlanta earlier this week was apparently booked by Costa on a flight connection to Albany, NY, rather than the correct final destination of Albany, GA, but that was later corrected by the line.
These types of issues are common after transportation accidents as it’s often difficult at the outset for a company like Costa to get people on the scene quickly. Passengers are separated and processed by authorities at different sites. Some companies must draw employee volunteers from other departments to supplement customer service staff who are overwhelmed with the sheer volume of work to be done. And some guests take matters into their own hands and make their own transportation arrangements after the accident.
Late Wednesday, Costa Cruises and its parent company, Carnival Corporation, confirmed their commitment to provide what they termed "full support" to passengers, crew and families of the victims of the Costa Concordia grounding.
“I give my personal assurance that we will take care of each and every one of our guests, crew and their families affected by this tragic event,” said Micky Arison, chairman and CEO, Carnival Corp. “Our company was founded on this principle and it will remain our focus.”
The statement said Costa has been arranging lodging and transportation for affected passengers and crew members to return home. “Every passenger and crew member or their family is being contacted and the company has offered its assistance and counseling as needed, and will be addressing personal possessions lost on board,” the statement said.
It added that Costa has also begun the process of refunding all voyage costs including both passenger cruise fares and all costs incurred while onboard. Senior management teams are also looking at what additional support is needed.
“During this time of tragedy, we are doing our very best to provide the needed support to the Costa Concordia passengers, crew and their families,” said Pier Luigi Foschi, chairman and CEO of Costa Cruises.
Last night, Costa issued this statement to address environmental concerns Italian authorities have about the vessel and its fuel cargo.
The Costa statement reads: “For Costa Cruises protecting the environment is an integral part of its corporate mission, as it has demonstrated by obtaining the most stringent international certifications (UNIEN ISO 14001).
“The company therefore recognized the need to promptly address issues concerning the protection of the marine environment following the Costa Concordia accident.
“In the hours immediately after the accident, Costa Cruises commissioned leading worldwide salvage experts Smit Salvage BV, of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, to draw up a plan to recover the reserves of fuel from Costa Concordia.
“From the outset, this plan has been shared with the relevant authorities and, as a result of their full cooperation, is expected to be implemented by the end of the week.”
Fire department officials on the scene have said it could take several weeks to safely offload the ship’s fuel from 17 different tanks.
CLIA Press Conference
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) along with the European Cruise Council (ECC) and the Passenger Shipping Association (PSA), which represents U.K. cruise and ferry companies, will hold an early morning press conference slated for 8 a.m. EST today. Topics are expected to be cruise ship safety and regulatory processes.
CLIA is the international cruise industry’s largest trade and travel agency association, comprised of 26 cruise lines and nearly 16,000 affiliated travel agencies. The ECC comprises all major cruise companies operating in Europe.
Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for a report on the discussion later today.