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Britons tell of cruise ship ordeal

British cruise passengers rescued from the wrecked Costa Concordia have spoken of their horrific ordeal after returning home.

Mandy Rodford, 45, relived her nightmare and said she thought her life was over when the luxury Italian-owned vessel smashed into rocks then began listing into the Mediterranean.

Mrs Rodford and her husband John, 46, from Rochester, Kent, were celebrating their fourth wedding anniversary and had only been aboard seven hours before disaster struck.

On Sunday night, after landing at Heathrow Airport, she 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."

Mr Rodford said they first thought something was wrong during dinner when he heard a "crunch" and his drink started sliding along the table. He said: "Then the lights went out and came back on. And then it (the ship) started going the other way, and quite a lot the other way. All the plates were coming off the tables and smashing, and it was just like bedlam."

On Sunday night, the bodies of two elderly passengers were found in part of the submerged restaurant taking the death toll to five - with 15 people still missing. The news came just hours after a honeymooning South Korean couple were found alive, and a cabin services director was also rescued despite suffering a suspected broken leg.

Foreign Secretary William Hague earlier confirmed that all the Britons on board - 23 passengers and 12 crew - were safe and well and being helped by officials to return home.

As pressure for an explanation of how the huge cruiser could crash into rocks intensified, the Concordia captain, Francesco Schettino, told Italian television he had not expected the rocks to be in the area where the ship ran aground.

He said: "I don't know if it was detected or not, but on the nautical chart it was marked just as water and some 100-150 metres (328ft-492ft) from the rocks, and we were about 300 metres (984ft) from the shore, more or less. We shouldn't have had this contact."

Cpt Schettino and an officer were held and questioned by prosecutors on suspicion of multiple manslaughter, abandoning ship, and causing a shipwreck, state TV and Sky TV said.


From Belfast Telegraph