Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Passengers recount cruise sinking

Cruise ship Costa Concordia ran aground off the Italian coast (Guardia di Finanza)
Rose Metcalf, 23, was one of the last passengers to be rescued from the Costa Concordia
Mandy and John Rodford were onboard the cruise ship that ran aground off the coast of Italy

A woman on board the stricken cruise ship Costa Concordia has said she thought her "life was over" as the luxury liner sank into the sea.

Mandy Rodford, 45, and her husband John, 46, were celebrating their fourth wedding anniversary on the vessel when it ran aground off an Italian island on Friday. The couple, from Rochester in Kent, had only been on board the Mediterranean cruise ship for seven hours before disaster struck.

Mrs Rodford, who had been hesitant about going on the holiday because she does not like water, said: "I just thought my life was gone. I just thought my life was over, getting in that water. I thought, if I don't die from the swimming part, I'm going to die from the shock of having to get in it."

Italian rescue officials said a passenger's body had been found in the wreckage, bringing the confirmed death toll to six, with 29 people still unaccounted for. All 35 Britons on board, including 12 crew, are safe.

A group of British dancers who worked on the ship also came back to Heathrow on Monday. James Thomas, 19, from Sutton Coldfield, said: "My life was that ship for six months, and now it's gone."

Rose Metcalf, 23, from Wimborne in Dorset, wiped away tears as she revealed she had written a note to her mother in case she did not survive. She was one of the last people to be rescued by a helicopter after she clambered from Deck Four to Deck Five.

Miss Metcalf said the experience had been "terrifying". She said she later left a message on her father's answer machine to let him know she was alive, but her mother did not know she was safe for eight hours. She added: "I'm just very, very lucky to be here."

Meanwhile, the captain of the cruise ship made an unauthorised diversion from the ship's computer-programmed course, his company has said

Costa Crociere chairman and chief executive Pier Luigi Foschi said that the company stood by captain Francesco Schettino, and would provide him with legal assistance, but disassociated itself from his behaviour. He said Costa ships have their routes programmed, and alarms go off when they deviate.

Capt Schettino, who has commanded the ship since it was built in 2006, told Italian television on Sunday night he was not to blame for the maritime disaster, claiming nautical charts did not show the rocks.

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