Tuscany Coast, Italy, Jan. 15, 2012—Rescuers continue to search the submerged wreckage of the Costa Concordia cruise liner that sank on January 13th, only a few hours after it set sail. The Concordia reportedly had approximately 3,000 passengers aboard, of which 123 were Americans. Another 1,000 crew members were also on the ship.
In addition to 5 confirmed deaths, about 60 people were injured and at least 15 people are still missing, including 2 Americans. Two South Korean passengers on their honeymoon were found earlier today trapped in a cabin and a crew member trapped on the 3rd deck was also rescued via airlift.
The ship allegedly hit the rocks off Italy’s Isola del Giglio and sustained a 165-foot gash that capsized the ship onto its port side.
The ship’s captain, Franchesco Schettino, is being detained for allegedly causing a shipwreck and abandoning the ship before all his passengers had escaped, in addition to manslaughter. Quoted by Italian news agency ANSA, Francesco Verusio, the prosecutor in the city of Grosseto where Captain Schettino was arrested, attributed the accident to a “reckless maneuver.” Several Italian newspapers said the captain may have steered the ship closer to the coast to allow passengers a better view of the island’s lights. The ship capsized only 150 yards from the shore.
Today’s broadcast of “CBS Sunday Morning” cited an additional issue that may have added to the chaos of the evacuation effort. The Concordia apparently didn’t have its “muster”, a dry-run safety drill of emergency evacuation procedures, on January 13th once it set sail. Instead it had the drill “scheduled” for the following morning, the day after the accident occurred, leading many to conclude that the passengers hadn’t been properly prepared for this emergency evacuation.
The CBS report also noted that the ship was allegedly designed to survive this type of damage and provide watertight safety, suggesting that the cruise ship’s design may also have contributed to what a spokesman for Costa’s parent, Carnival Cruise Lines, has dubbed a “terrible tragedy.”
Charles Lipcon, the seasoned maritime lawyer and founder of Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A., recommended these time-sensitive next steps for the Concordia’s affected passengers and their families:
~ Victims of the sinking of the Costa vessel have legal claims that can be brought against the vessel operator.
~ These claims will be governed in large measure by the wording of the passenger ticket, which usually includes a requirement of notice of claim within a short period of time, the filing of a lawsuit within a short period of time and the location where the lawsuit must be brought.
~ Typically Costa requires suit be brought in Genoa, Italy, but there are certain exceptions that might allow for suit to be brought in Florida.
~ Victims and their families should immediately contact an experienced maritime lawyer, especially one who handles cruise line cases.”