The Costa Concordia foundered off the Italian coast on Friday, January 13. Some have tried to associate Concordia with the sinking of the Titanic nearly 100 years ago, but that’s a reach; over the last 9 days the tale of the Concordia has become its own kind of tragicomic clown show, emphasis on the “tragic” part of the word. An exhaustively detailed list of ridiculous and sad elements of the disaster would already fill a book, so here are a handful:
- Captain Francesco Schettino‘s (Schettino, remember, is being held on suspicion of manslaughter among other charges) absurd list of possible reasons for taking the ship off-course: he was doing a nautical version of the fly-by, intended as a tribute to a retired captain on the nearby island of Giglio; he did it for ship’s head waiter, even though the head waiter didn’t request it; he may have wanted to please Giglio mayor Ortelli, who had gushed over a previous sail-by in August.
- The Moldovan dancer factor. This isn’t a reference to an Eastern European talent show but to 25-year-old Domnica Cemortan, a translator who appeared to be the object of Capt. Schettino’s affections. She was on or near the bridge and may have been providing an additional distraction to Schettino when the ship struck rocks just below the water’s surface. Cemortan has defended Schettino in the press.
- Passenger tales of crew reaction and organization of the evacuation. The crew didn’t react well and there was no organization. In this instance Titanic comparisons may be valid, as the crews of both ships reacted similarly.
- Today, along with news that rescue divers found a 13th casualty–tragically said to be wearing a life vest–came reports that there may have been stowaways on the ship. Franco Gabrielli, an official in charge of the rescue effort, told the press “There could have been X persons who we don’t know about who were inside, who were clandestine.” Apparently Costa Cruises security has holes as big as the gash in the Concordia, if Gabrielli is right.
- Until further ridiculous revelations come to light, this may be the cherry on the whole farcical sundae, for now: according to Reuters, Captain Schettino and the ship owners have formed a circular firing squad:
Costa Cruises have said they were not aware of any unsafe approaches so close to the shore and have suspended Schettino, saying he was responsible for the disaster […] Schettino has disputed that claim, saying Costa had insisted on the maneuver to please passengers and attract publicity.