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British Woman Reveals Her Family’s Ordeal On Board The Stricken Ship

20.01.2012


A British female passenger who survived the horrific Costa Concordia cruise disaster has today spoken of her ordeal and the terror she felt as she became separated from her loved ones and watched priceless family heirlooms go down with the ship. Among her treasured possessions were the ashes of her late husband, which she lost during the struggle to get on board a lifeboat.

Returning to her home in Menorca, expat Sandra Rodgers, 62, became caught up in the tragic events on board the cruise ship last weekend. She is one of is one of several passengers who have instructed travel law experts at Irwin Mitchell.

The latest reports from the Italian media suggest that Francesco Schettino, the captain of the ship, has admitted making a navigation error. He has reportedly told investigators that he had "ordered the turn too late" as the luxury ship sailed past the island of Giglio, causing it to collide with rocks on the shore.

Sandra Rodgers, who is originally from Caergwrle in Chester, was sailing with her daughter Karen, 39, and seven-year-old twin granddaughters Emma and Chloe when the disaster struck.

Recounting the harrowing scenes, she said: “The evacuation of the ship was completely chaotic. There was certainly no ’women and children first’ policy. It was disgusting. I lost my daughter and my grandchildren in the chaos whilst we were being told by the crew that there was a simply a technical problem. We were also told by crew that we should go back to our cabin. Thank God we didn’t do as they had told us as we may not have made it off the ship alive.

“I was standing by the lifeboats and men were banging into me and knocking the girls. And when we finally got into a lifeboat, other passengers and crew were also trying to jump into the boat. I thought ‘if they land in here we are going to capsize’.

“There was no one telling us where to go and it was only when we got on to the island that we got some help – from the islanders. There were no emergency services and the cruise staff had all disappeared. The people of the island were a God-send.

“We lost both my husband, Barry, and my father last year. We had decided to take the cruise to lift our spirits after a very sad year and what we thought would be a difficult Christmas for us all.  We had planned to scatter Barry’s ashes when the cruise passed Monaco, because Barry had always wanted to see the Monaco Grand Prix. It’s dreadful but his ashes were lost onboard the Concordia as well as other family heirlooms from my late mother and father.

”We have lost so many things that are quite literally priceless. The girls are also now too afraid to be left alone. We have all been deeply affected by what has happened and I also injured my arm during the evacuation of the ship and have had to have medical treatment in Menorca.

Clive Garner, Partner and head of Irwin Mitchell’s International Law Team, who is representing Mrs Rodgers, her family and an increasing number of other passengers from the ill fated ship, said: “We are continuing to receive enquiries from a growing number of passengers from both the UK and abroad in relation to the Costa Concordia tragedy and are shocked to hear the personal accounts of many of our clients. including the terrible ordeal of Mrs Rodgers and her family.

“They have clearly been through a terrifying and most traumatic experience and one which may have long lasting effects for them. 

“With thousands of people on board this huge vessel, the safety of passengers should have been the first and only priority. Tragically, our clients confirm that this was not the case and passengers and their families have paid a very heavy price.

“The running aground of the Costa Concordia was terrible enough but this was compounded by the woeful management of the evacuation of the vessel.

“As well as the official investigation we are working with colleagues in Italy and maritime safety experts to understand exactly how the Costa Concordia came to run aground. On the evidence currently available there appear to have been a number of serious errors of judgment on the part of the Captain, while faults with the sonar and navigation equipment also cannot be ruled out at this stage.

“Following formal notification of our clients’ claims to the cruise line we hope to engage them in early discussions but if this proves unsuccessful, legal proceedings will follow.”
The firm voiced further concerns about reports of letters published in the Italian newspaper La Stampa, praising the Captain of the ship for a previous sail past which went very close to the shore of the island.

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