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Penetrating the wreck of the Costa Concordia

On 13 January, the luxury ship Costa Concordia crashed off the coast of Tuscany. Since then, Italian divers have been searching the wreck in order to find all the victims of the disaster. This is a very difficult task as the wreck is not stable and is in danger of sinking to a much greater
Published: February 2, 2012 - 11:11
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 06:18
Penetrating the wreck of the Costa Concordia

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On 13 January, the luxury ship Costa Concordia crashed off the coast of Tuscany. Since then, Italian divers have been searching the wreck in order to find all the victims of the disaster. This is a very difficult task as the wreck is not stable and is in danger of sinking to a much greater depth. In addition, according to Fabio Paoletti, one of the divers exploring the interior of the Concordia, there is total chaos inside.

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Paoletti is an experienced cave diver who, over the years, has searched many wrecks and recovered the bodies of disaster victims. However, he has never been faced with a task as difficult and dangerous as the 17-deck Costa Concordia.

“This type of diving is very hard on the psyche. I feel the fear of the unknown every time. Getting through the corridors is difficult and very tiring. Visibility varies between 10-80cm and we have to comb every bit of the wreck. Along the way we pass a whole lot of things-clothes, tablecloths, just everything that was inside now creates one big chaos, ” said Paoletti.

For safety reasons, the divers comb the interior of the wreck in pairs. Centimetre by centimetre they move slowly through the murky interior. Often they have to squeeze into small rooms where there is a high risk of getting trapped. To make sure they check everything thoroughly, they move in zigzags.


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“Each of our descents lasts up to 50min. During the descent we are equipped with 3 gas bottles. One is deposited somewhere on the way, just in case we run out of air on our return. If we don’t return in the allotted time, another pair is sent to find us. The biggest danger, is that you can get entangled in the electrical wires floating in the depths. Cutting instruments are one of the most important pieces of equipment,” continues Paoletti.

So far 17 bodies have been recovered. Although the operation is still being described as a rescue and missing persons search, the Italian diver leaves no illusions about the chances of survival of anyone trapped in the wreckage.

“If anyone was trapped in one of the rooms and, for example, knocking, calling for help, we would certainly hear it, but it would have to be a miracle. Sometimes we feel like we’ve found a body, but it turns out to be a floating jacket or something,” he further reports.


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When the ship crashed into the rocky coastline, there were 4229 passengers on board the Costa Concordia, from 60 countries. The chaos surrounding the evacuation operation was enormous. Now Paoletti and his nine men must wait for sappers to blow holes using micro-explosive charges before going any further. However, there are fears that the explosion may lead to the wreck sinking into the sea.

During the search, the divers have a laminated map, with the layout of the rooms they are searching. The thought of losing contact with the railing and getting lost does not occupy Fabio’s mind. As he says, he can’t afford to panic or even worry. Concentration is the key.

“At the bottom there is no time to think about anything. We have to do our job. On thesurface, on the other hand, we’re too exhausted to even think about it,” concludes Fabio Paoletti.

Source: calgaryherald.com
Photo: EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection


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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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