Concordia passengers dragged to their deaths in whirlpools

As the Costa Concordia slowly tilted, some lifeboats could not be launched. Picture: Reuters
As the Costa Concordia slowly tilted, some lifeboats could not be launched. Picture: Reuters
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Passengers on the doomed cruise ship Costa Concordia, which capsized off the Italian coast in 2012, were sucked to their deaths in whirlpools after finding no room on lifeboats, court documents have revealed.

Among the victims of the disaster – which claimed 32 lives – was a five-year-old girl, Dayana Arlotti, who perished with her father after they were told by crew that the lifeboat they were trying to board was full.

Magistrates are calling for the ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, to stand trial for manslaughter and abandoning ship, after the 950ft cruise ship hit rocks on the Tuscan island of Giglio on the night of 13 January.

The collision tore a gaping hole in the ship, causing it to ground near the island’s port. As 4,000 passengers desperately tried to board liftboats, the vessel slowly tilted over, coming to rest on its starboard side.

A court document released yesterday describes how passengers flocked to lifeboats on the port side of the ship which was raised out of the water, only to find the boats full.

Dayana and her father were trying to get down an internal corridor near one of the ship’s restaurants, when they fell into a watery “abyss” created by the final tilting of the ship, the document reveals.

Another passenger, Maria D’Introno, was forced to get out of a lifeboat on the port side when the angle of the ship meant it could not be lowered. She was sent by crew to the starboard side, where rising water forced her to jump into the sea. Unable to swim, she drowned.

The documents reveal, for the first time, the plight of those who died, some after heroically saving the lives of others.

Musician Giuseppe Girolamo gave up his seat on a lifeboat before drowning as he tried to swim to safety.

Although the ship was close to the shore and passengers could clearly see the rocks they were swimming towards, some were sucked down by whirlpools created as the vessel turned on its side – even though they wore lifejackets.

Erika Soria Molina, a Peruvian waitress, was moments from safety aboard a lifeboat when she fell into the water and was pulled to her death.

Prosecutors allege Schettino, who was attempting a “sail-past” of the rocky coast of Giglio, was distracted by the presence on the bridge of Domnica Cemontan, a Moldovan dancer, and other crew members.

The captain also distracted crew on the bridge by telephoning a Giglio resident.

Schettino, who is under house arrest pending a decision on charges, is also accused of giving misleading information to the Italian coastguard and then abandoning ship before all passengers had evacuated. He has claimed he slipped into a lifeboat while trying to orchestrate the evacuation and has blamed poor charts for the impact.