By Alan Sexton
Italy’s Civil Protection Department announced on February 23 that crews have recovered the remains of eight more victims from the partially submerged wreckage of the Italian luxury liner Costa Concordia. The victims remains, including those of a five year old Italian girl, were reported to have been discovered near lifeboats which failed to deploy on Deck 4 of the ship.
The recovery of the eight remains brings to a total of twenty-five remains now recovered to date. Italian officials believe 32 among the estimated 4,200 passengers and crew aboard Costa Concordia died after the ship struck a reef off the Tuscan island of Giglio on Jan. 13, 2012. Concordia began taking on water and listing before coming to rest on her side and partially submerged just off the rocky shores of Giglio.
Francesco Schettino, Concordia’s captain is primarily blamed for the tragedy, and Italian news agencies now report that in addition to Schettino and Concordia first officer Ciro Ambrosio, seven additional people including four crew members and Concordia owner Costa Crociere vice president Manfred Ursprunger, crisis unit head Roberto Ferrarini and fleet superintendent Paolo Parodi are also under investigation and possibly subject to charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and failing to communicate with maritime authorities.
Meanwhile, salvage crews began pumping fuel from Concordia’s tanks on February 12, and Italy’s Civil Protection Department said on February 24 the work is progressing despite difficulties sometimes presented by rough waters.
Two Americans were among those who perished in the shipwreck, and while it is not yet known if their remains are among those recovered last week, a well attended Memorial Mass was celebrated by Father John Mitchell in St. Pius the X church on February 18 for the long married couple, Jerry and Barb Heil, in the St. Paul, Minnesota suburb of White Bear Lake.
Mr. and Mrs. Heil were fondly remembered before the hundreds in attendance for their unwavering devotion to each other, their family–including four children and 14 grandchildren, and the Catholic faith.