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British survivors tell Costa Concordia trial

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A British survivor of the Costa Concordia cruise ship crash has told an Italian court she is demanding €1 million in damages from the cruise company to make it “suffer as we have suffered.”
Mandy Rodford, from Rochester, was giving evidence in Grosseto, Tuscany at the trial of Francesco Schettino, the captain steered the doomed Costa Concordia onto rocks on the Italian island of Giglio in 2012, leading to the drowning of 32 of the 4,200 passengers and crew.
Mrs Rodford had taken the cruise with her husband John to celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary. As the ship took on water and tilted slowly before coming to rest in shallow water, the couple fled amid scenes of panic and confusion on board. Court documents have listed the couple as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
In court, Mr Rodford said that Costa Crociere had not provided passengers with information on evacuating the ship since an exercise was planned the day after the crash.
“It’s difficult to think that the firm is still trading while we, after two and a half years, still don’t sleep,” he said. The Rodfords are now demanding a million euros each in compensation each.
“Costa Crociere has to suffer as we have suffered and continue to suffer. We nearly lost our lives,” said Mrs Rodford.
Accused of manslaughter and abandoning ship, Capt Schettino has blamed poor quality maps and a second official for ignoring his instructions as he attempted a ‘sail past’ close the island of Giglio.
Other officials on board that night have already received minor sentences, while Costa Crociere has paid a one million euro fine and is offering compensation to passengers.
But an Italian passenger, Giuseppe Lo Presti, told the court on Monday that he considered the €17,000 he had been offered “laughable”.
“I cannot sleep because I keep seeing the terrified child looking for its mother who I could not help because I was pulled away by the crowd,” he said.
Another survivor, hairdresser Tomasi Napoli, broke down in tears as he recalled being knocked down by a “river of people” as he tried to get into a lifeboat. “I was afraid I would not see my wife and children again,” he said, “I thought we were dying.”

Reuters, 26.05.2014, Tom Kington for The Telegraph

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