Jan. 23, 2012
BOSTON — On Monday, Italian officials announced that divers pulled two more bodies from the wrecked Costa Concordia, bringing the death toll to 15. Salvage workers began pumping fuel out of the capsized ship, hoping to avoid an ecological disaster.
At least 17 people remain missing. The number might be higher: over the weekend, Italian officials said it appeared unregistered passengers were on board when the ship rammed a reef 10 days ago and a rock sliced a 160-foot hole in its hull.
The ship’s captain Francesco Schettino is facing charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship. Many passengers claimed he left them to fend for themselves. Schettino denies the charges, saying he orchestrated the ship’s evacuation from a nearby lifeboat.
Brandon Warrick of Braintree, 22, was one of those passengers, traveling with his sister and brother.
The scene was "just chaos," he said. For the first 10 minutes after the ship shook and the lights went out, "they didn't do or say anything." Then, "they made the announcement that it was an electrical problem and it would be fixed in no time." And then, they heard the ship's death knell, just like an EKG flatlining in an operating room: seven beeps followed by one long beep.
The passengers were completely unprepared to handle an accident: There were no evacuation drills, just one emergency card, Warrick said: "It was pretty much just a free-for-all to get on the [lifeboats]." He still can't imagine how some people stayed in their cabins… where victims have since been found.
Warrick said he never seriously feared for his life, noting that the ship was relatively close to shore — he studies kinesiology at UMass Amherst and is a serious tennis player — and the water filled with police boats. He even said he'd go on a cruise again someday. But not, perhaps, with Concordia.
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