Ship disaster: SA pair swim for their lives

2012-01-15 23:02

Johannesburg - It was like a movie - Friday the 13th on the Titanic - Bradley Davis said in Johannesburg on Sunday after his parents jumped four storeys to safety when the luxury ship Costa Concordia ran aground off the Italian coast.

The "Palace of Fun", which left Civitavecchia at about 19:00, ran aground at Giglio island at about 21:45.

Laurence Davis, 60, celebrated his birthday on December 30 and his wife Andy's is on January 18.

They'd decided on the boat trip to celebrate their birthdays and were having dinner with friends when disaster struck.

 “My dad didn't hear anything, but felt something was wrong. Then plates and cutlery started sliding around. Chaos erupted," Bradley said.

Panic-stricken passengers tried to get to lifeboats. Bradley said when his parents couldn't get a lifeboat on the one deck, they ran to another.

"There was pandemonium. The ship started listing more and more and someone fell against my father. He was pinned against a wall."

Laurence managed to free himself. It was then that he realised that they had to get off the ship.

War zone

"My dad put his glasses in his jacket pocket. Thank heavens, because he can't see without them.

"Then they jumped four storeys into the cold sea below," Bradley said.

They swam about 100m to a small island. The rocks were sharp and the couple took about 45 minutes to get to the top.

Their only light was a small torch on Laurence's life jacket.

There were already 6 people on the island.

The worst for Laurence was the fact that there were about 100 others trying to get to the island, Bradley said.

They were later picked by a ferry and taken to an island.

"It looked like a war zone with ambulances and people searching for loved ones. It broke my dad's heart.

Bradley said he'd only managed to get hold of his father on Saturday night. "I only believed that he was alive after speaking to him."

Bradley said his dad and Andy are very traumatised.

Thought it was an act

Another South African, Mike van Dijk and his wife were at a magician show when the dustbins started falling over.

"I thought it was part of the act, because all of a sudden the curtains started blowing in one direction.

But when he saw the stage manager's face, he realised it was not part of the act and they had to get out of there.

He said there was chaos as people tried to get to life rafts.

Helicopters and ferries were used to rescue passengers - many of them with fractures and hypothermia.

A spokesperson for the department of international affairs, Nelson Kgwete, confirmed that the Van Dijk and Davis families were safe and in a hotel in Rome.

  • @RossWZA - 2012-01-15 23:36

    Soooooooo dramatic Make a movie.

      Kim - 2012-01-15 23:49

      Don't be so damn callus Ross. Put yourself in the same position and let us see you make a movie. Grow up. They are not a young couple and I take my hat off to them for swimming for their lives. Idiot comment

      DeeGeeBee - 2012-01-15 23:55

      Haha, thought the same! Yeah, must have been traumatic, but, wow, this journalist went overboard! (Pun not intended) :P

  • Charmaine - 2012-01-16 00:28

    This is very sad and a time of great sorrow and pain for all the families May God give them strength at this time. Compassion for all those who are grieving the loss of their loved ones.

  • Emile - 2012-01-16 01:09

    Why did they jump off the ship?

      paul.cowie2 - 2012-01-16 07:29

      What a stupid question, the damned thing was rolling on its side and sinking!! I suppose you would have stayed put??!!

      Janine - 2012-01-16 07:44

      Judging by the number of thumbs down you have, it seems that very few people know that the Golden Rule for sailing/yachting/boating is "Never Leave Your Boat". The thing ran AGROUND, i.e. meaning it was shallow enough for the vessel not to sink. The people who jumped off were risking their lives for nothing. You are safer sitting on the side of a capsized boat than swimming for your life. What this shows is that there are no drills and insufficient Health & Safety plans in place. Why were the crew not controlling the panicking crowd and giving them instructions? Did the crew even know what to do? Perhaps we should boycot these luxury cruises until they start becoming as strict with Health & Safety regulations as airlines.

      larisha.toffar - 2012-01-16 08:16

      Janine the crew tried to calm the people and the told them to stay put but the people did not listen.. (stubborn people) were the crew supposed to hand cuff the people to the boat? as they said it was chaos!

      Mike - 2012-01-16 08:19

      @Janine, since the crew did not appear to know what was going on, how would the passengers have known they had run aground and would therefore not sink or roll over completely? It is easy to judge from behind a PC but I think you will find staying on a heavily listing vessel when there are thousands of people panicking is way easier said than done. I dare any crew no matter how well trained to convince people not to panick when their massive vessel starts rolloing over. I am not exonerating the crew here but until you have been in a situation where you have more than a hundred people trying to escape you have no room to comment on the actions of the survivors.

      Fredster - 2012-01-16 08:58

      to live duh!!

      Ian - 2012-01-16 09:23

      @Mike and Janine - All being said, valid points. However if your a passenger and you see the CAPTAIN of the ship your on in some lifeboat, well... if the Captain's abandoned ship then I'm not staying on that!!

      Louise - 2012-01-16 09:34

      Apparently the crew was mostly Asian anyway, and very few could speak English. Cheap labour = pandemonium.

  • Juan - 2012-01-16 02:50

    I wonder if any drills were held on board for the passengers, given the pandimonium.

      SamuraiMama - 2012-01-16 07:45

      Juan, if you've ever been onboard ANY cruise ship, you'd know that a lifeboat drill is the first thing that EVERYBODY does, as soon as new guests set foot on the ship. For the crew it is a fortnightly exercise

      Ian - 2012-01-16 08:26

      i bet it wasnt ,just pack them in nothing will happen attitude!

      Mike - 2012-01-16 08:31

      @Juan & Samurai, here is the reality - where I work in order to even get out here one has to undergo sea survival and helicopter crash training, every 2 weeks we have comprehensive fire-fighting and life-boat evacuation drills, every crew member is trained in emergency response and fire-fighting with refresher courses annually. A great deal of this went out the window for many of the 130 crew the first time we had a major fire. From this you can see the likelihood of the average liner passenger remaining calm and doing what they are told is very slim.

      karen.glautier - 2012-01-16 09:33

      In another article they clearly state that the drill had not been performed, and the passengers had even questioned this. The drill was to be done the following afternoon.

  • dooskop - 2012-01-16 05:53

    Mng!! Juan to answer your ?? However drills' or no drills it was a disaster of fate and human error.. and in panic people forget all about what the proceedure were...PANIC and FEAR!!!!!!

  • chris.piro2 - 2012-01-16 05:53

    thanks god they suvived

  • Gungets - 2012-01-16 06:07

    And once again, Captain and senior crew were the first off. Suggestion - sail with Norwegian or English captain and crew. The Italians and Greeks don't seem to stick around.

      Rev-Ida - 2012-01-16 09:11

      The captain was ordered back onto the ship during the rescue exercise and refused, apparently that is the prime basis for his arrest. The figure of speech "Italian Bravery" springs to mind, for the n'th time since England went to war over the Falklands in 1982, and Italy surrendered just in case.

      Rev-Ida - 2012-01-18 09:03

      Wikipedia thought they would shut down their site today, so for all those people who cannot bypass this protest action (the following was gathered live from wikipedia @ 2012-01-18(Wed) 08:43+02:00) the following is the state of play Event Sinking of cruise ship Costa Concordia Cause Ran aground on a reef Location Off Isola del Giglio, Tuscany, Italy 42°21'53?N 10°55'16?E? / ?42.36486°N 10.92124°E? / 42.36486; 10.92124 Date 13 January 2012 Captain Francesco Schettino (Italy) On board 4,229 Passengers: 3,229 Crew members: 1,000 Deaths 11 Injuries 64 Missing 23 Rescued about 4,197 Origin Civitavecchia, Italy According to the local coast guard, 3,206 passengers and 1,023 crew members were on board at the time. The Costa Concordia entered service for Costa Cruises in July 2006 as the largest ship built in Italy at the time, measuring 114,500 GT, 290.2 metres (952 ft) long, and costing €450 million (US$569 million). By tonnage, it is the largest passenger ship to sink. Industry analysts believe the vessel is a constructive total loss.

      Rev-Ida - 2012-01-18 09:05

      It was reported that the captain did not mention any mechanical problems but had stated that they were 300 metres (330yd) from the rocks (ie about the length of the vessel) and hit a rock which was not marked on charts. In contrast, "Le Scole" shole, the proven impact point, is charted and extends about 95 metres seaward on the island's east coast and is about 800 metres (870 yd) south of the entrance to the harbour, Giglio Porto. The vessel continued north for approximately another 1,000 metres (1,100 yd) until just north of the harbour entrance. The vessel then turned in an attempt to get close to the harbour. This turn shifted the centre of gravity to the starboard side of the ship, and it listed over to that side initially by about 20°, finally coming to rest in about 25 fathoms (46 m) of water at an angle of heel of about 80°. The ship has a 48.8 m gash on her port side, with a large rock embedded in the ship's hull. A few minutes after the impact, the captain was warned by the head of the engine room that the breach was an irreparable tear of 70 metres. It was about an hour before a general emergency was announced, he said. When the ship later turned around, attempting to head back to the harbour, it began to list approximately 20° to the starboard side, the change creating problems in launching the lifeboats. The president of Costa Cruises, Gianni Onorato, said normal lifeboat evacuation had become "almost impossible" because the ship had listed so quickly.

      Rev-Ida - 2012-01-18 09:05

      CNN reported that the ship's captain, speaking on Italian television, insisted the rocks that the Concordia hit were not marked on his map: "On the nautical chart, it was marked just as water," Schettino said, adding that the ship was about 300 metres from shore. In contrast, Nicastro, the Coast Guard spokesman, insisted that the waters where the ship ran aground were well-mapped. Captain Francesco Schettino (aged 52), who has worked for Costa Cruises for 11 years, and the ship's first officer, Ciro Ambrosio, were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and on abandoning ship before passengers were evacuated. [] [] The Corriere Fiorentino subsequently released audio recordings of Coast Guard Captain Gregorio Maria De Falco repeatedly ordering Schettino to return to the ship in order to provide the number of passengers still on board and assist in their evacuation. La Repubblica called the event "a night of errors and lies". La Stampa criticized the captain for not raising the alarm and refusing to go back on board the ship. Rich Lowry, writing for the New York Post, compared Schettino's actions unfavourably with those of Edward Smith, captain of the RMS Titanic. Lowry suggests that when the Titanic sank, it was "women and children first", but this chivalry was less noticeable aboard the Costa Concordia.

  • Tony - 2012-01-16 06:22

    So very tragic .To think you plan all your life when you retire to travel the world on a cruise liner and this happen? Luckily for the South African coulpe they could swim .So my big lesson I take out of this is "SWIM IS A LIFESKILL" you never know when or where in the world you'll be one day to swim for your life!!

  • SamuraiMama - 2012-01-16 07:44

    My wife and myself used to work onboard a ship for many years, and this has to be any shippy's worst nightmare. This is unreal.

  • Derrick - 2012-01-16 07:46

    Deja Vu - Oceanos (Captain abandoning Ship !)

  • Gcwabe-KaMavovo - 2012-01-16 08:36

    I've been wanting to go an a cruise, but I guess I'll now have to learn how to swim first. Dramatic and tragic story this.

  • Anthony - 2012-01-16 09:07

    Thanking their lucky stars they made it OK.

  • jacqueline.knox1 - 2012-01-16 09:42


  • stefan.vanderspuy - 2012-01-16 10:03

    I've never liked the look of a ship; they seem so huge and clumsy in contrast to (e.g.) modern aircraft. And they seem to put together by coathanger wire and bubblegum. Pretty poor sailing by the "pilot" as well...

  • nchukana - 2012-01-16 10:26

    The damn captain run for his life. S according to him its better to be in jail than on the shark's belly. Stupid

  • kmphasha - 2012-01-16 10:50

    Reality: Friday the 13th...

  • Zyklon85 - 2012-01-16 11:02

    This is the dumbest article i have ever read.... the rocks were 10meters away NOT 100 first of all!!!!!!!!!!!!! 2nd, there are HARDLY any sharks in the agean/meditteranean sea(maybe 1 or 2 might pass though the waters a year. i lived there for 7 years and there was only 1 siting in those 7 years and it was a baby shark. 3. ag please man, the boat was so close to the shore, you could basically jump from the ship straight on to the island. With a 99% survival rate of a disaster, i would say that is a GREAT SUCCESS AND HI FIVE.

  • Craig - 2012-01-16 12:58

    If I was on a ship that size and it started keeling over,I would have grabbed a life jacket and looked like a Springbok hurdler as I hurdled the rail.

  • margaret.mead1 - 2012-01-16 14:10

    WOW. What a disaster! I thank God the South Africans in the article were rescued. Their escape took a lot of courage and presence of mind in such a panicked situation.It is a moment they will never forget, but they will always be grateful too. My condolences to the families who lost loved ones, and I pray good recovery to health for those that were injured or suffered some medical emergency. What an indictment on Italian maritime authorities.

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