Passengers and crew of the ill-fated Costa Concordia have spoken of their horror after the luxury Italian cruiseliner ran aground. Of the 4,200 people on board, a British cruise ship magician’s assistant was stuck in a magic box when the Concordia crashed in rocks off the Tuscan coasts, while others were toasting to their wedding anniversary.
As rescue workers search for more survivors from the shipwreck in one of the largest maritime rescue operations in years, here are some of the stories of those on board.
Entertainer Rosalyn Rincon, 30, of Blackpool found herself in a predicament as the ship crashed. The magician’s assistant was trapped inside a trick box onstage in front of a room full of spectators when a crunch sounding like an “earthquake” was heard at around 9.30pm on Friday. The lights went out, the music stopped and she struggled to get out of the box, Miss Rincon’s mother told reporters. Then a pile of other props fell on her box as the ship began leaning over in the water.
As the 114,000–tonne vessel ran aground, 23-year-old Rose Metcalf, of Dorset, was dancing on another stage. It was her first cruise since graduating university in September. She told 'Daybreak' and 'BBC Breakfast' how she was one of the last people on board the ship. As the cruise liner capsized, she battled to help other passengers get to safety and during the last few moments reached for her phone to update her Facebook status.
The post read: “My name is Rose, it’s Friday the 13th and I’m one of the last survivors still on board the sinking cruise ship off the coast of Italy. Pray for us to be rescued.”
Miss Metcalf and her boyfriend - an engineer on the ship - climbed the railings on the ship which was leaning at a 90° angle towards its starboard side and latched onto a pole with a water hose to avoid falling. Fortunately for Miss Metcalf and the five others left on the stricken ship, a helicopter winched them to safety.
[ See also: Costa Concordia cruise disaster in photos]
While people rushed to the lifeboats to save themselves, Beatrice Micheaud, 58, from La Rochelle, France was told jump into freezing cold waters despite wearing only a flimsy dress.
Mrs Micheaud said she and her 61-year-old husband were in the water for more than an hour: “It was cold, very cold. I was only wearing evening dress. We hung on to the edge of a liferaft and kept lifting our heads to shout to ask to be taken on board but the people in the raft didn’t hear us or didn’t want to hear us. We were exhausted.”
It is reported, that one man died after suffering a fatal heart attack on hitting the water.
John Rodford, 46, from Kent, was enjoying the first leg of a romantic cruise and celebrating his fourth wedding anniversary with wife Mandy when disaster struck.
Mr Rodford said they first thought something was wrong during dinner when he heard a “crunch” and his drink started sliding along the table.
“The lights went out and came back on. And then 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. “
Valerie Ananias, 31, a Los Angeles teacher who was travelling with her sister and parents, told the ‘New York Times’: “Have you seen Titanic? That’s exactly what it was.”
She and her family suffered bruised knees from their desperate crawl along nearly vertical hallways and stairwells in a struggle to reach rescue boats. “We were crawling up a hallway, in the dark, with only the light from the life vest strobe flashing. We could hear plates and dishes crashing, people slamming against walls,” said her mother, Georgia Ananias, 61.