With Costa Concordia righted, most of Italy moves on

The Costa Concordia drama is finally over for most, but relatives of those whose bodies were never recovered are still waiting.

Tony Gentile/Reuters
The cruise liner Costa Concordia is seen after its successful raising outside Giglio harbour Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013.

Just a day after the successful raising of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, life was regaining some degree of normalcy on the tiny Italian island of Giglio.

As boats and barges fussed around the battered hull of the liner, which was raised in a dramatic 19-hour operation, locals took advantage of the warm autumn sunshine. On the tiny sand beach that lies directly opposite the wreck, grandmothers in roomy swimming costumes sunbathed while their grandchildren dug holes and built sandcastles.

A few yards away, on the quayside, a tanned fisherman with a gold earring pulled up a large octopus from the water. Its tentacles wrapped around his forearm as he killed it with a knife. “This is lunch,” he said, holding up the glistening, mottled body.

Just 24 hours previously, the breakwater from where he dangled his line was crammed with television crews from around the world, with the Concordia providing a dramatic backdrop for correspondents as it was raised inch by painstaking inch.

Now, all but a handful have gone, as the media circus moves on and engineers embark on many months of work to prepare the Costa Concordia to be towed away to an Italian port and broken up for scrap.

The salvage experts need to ensure that the 950 foot-long ship, which has been crumpled and smashed all along its starboard side, is safe enough for divers and police to enter.

Amid the slime-covered cabins and corridors of the vessel, they will have a grim task, searching for the remains of two of the 32 victims whose bodies were never recovered – Russel Rebello, a waiter from India, and Maria Grazia Trecarichi, a passenger from Sicily.

Relatives of the two victims have arrived on the island and now face an agonizing wait for news. It could take days before authorities receive permission to board the ship.

“We hope they can start work very soon,” says Russel Rebello’s brother Kevin, who spoke from behind the palm-shaded beach that faces the ship. “When they find the remains, my main priority will be to take him home and give him a decent burial. At least we will have a tomb to cry on.” The Rebello family members are Catholics, of Goan origin, and now live in Mumbai.

Stefania Vincenzi, the daughter of Mrs. Trecarichi, also kept watch over the wreck, which lies just a few hundred yards from Giglio’s port.

They were both on the cruise ship on the night of the disaster. Ms. Vincenzi survived with the help of her boyfriend, but her mother rushed down to her cabin to fetch a jacket to ward off the winter cold, as thousands of terrified passengers and crew tried to evacuate, and was never seen again.

“The last year and a half have been very hard for me, without doubt,” says the teenager, who is a contestant in this year’s Miss Italy contest. “I hope they will be able to find my mother’s body.”

She said she had decided to enter the beauty pageant as a tribute to her mother, who had said she would give her blessing once her daughter turned 18. The dark-haired teenager was ferried out to the wreck of the ship in an Italian coast guard boat with her father, Elio Vincenzi, and Kevin Rebello.

There they scattered white flowers on the sea, as the sun shone from a cloudless sky.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.