On the western coast of Italy, about 100 km northwest of Rome, there lies Isola del Giglio (in English - Giglio Island), known by its beautiful beaches and the XII century castle. In 2012, the island received international attention for a different reason - the disaster of the cruise liner “Costa Concordia” just off its shore.
On January 13th, 2012, at about 9:45 p.m., in calm seas and overcast weather, under command of Captain Francesco Schettino, “Costa Concordia” struck a reef in the Tyrrhenian Sea just off the eastern shore of Isola del Giglio, only hours after leaving the Italian port of Civitavecchia. The reef ripped a 53-metre long gash on the left port side of her hull , which almost immediately flooded parts of the engine room and caused loss of power to her engines and electrical systems. Taking on water the vessel started to list starboard. Pushed by winds, “Costa Concordia” drifted back to Giglio Island, where she settled on the rocky sea bed just 500 m north of the village of Giglio Porto, resting on her right starboard side in shallow waters with most of her starboard side under water.
Despite the gradual sinking of the ship, its complete loss of power, and its proximity to shore in calm seas, an order to abandon ship was not issued until over an hour after the initial impact. The evacuation of “Costa Concordia” took over six hours and not all passengers were evacuated. Of the 3,229 passengers and 1,023 crew known to have been aboard, 32 died. Some of them were trapped in their cabins and drowned, others jumped from the ship into the water to their death.
The “Costa Concordia” accident is often being compared to the “Titanic” disaster, and while the loss of life on the “Titanic” was much worse than on the “Costa Concordia”, even the “Titanic”'s poorly planned evacuation may have been less chaotic than the one off the Tuscan coast. The faith of the captains of the two vessels was very different too: Edward J. Smith, the captain of “Titanic”, went down with his ship. His body was never found. The “Costa Concordia” captain, Francesco Schettino, left the ship with passengers still on board.
The 290-metre long “Costa Concordia” was righted in September 2013 in one of the largest, most complex salvage operations ever, but remains stranded after its ill-fated journey.
In June 2013 the ship was still lying on its side resembling a huge dead whale, killed and abandoned. It has been a daily remainder of the tragedy that could have been avoided. The “Costa Concordia” disaster affected the islanders in a profound way. They say that their lives will never be the same.