'I never panicked' - Jamaican chef survives shipwreck Published: Sunday | January 22, 2012 0 Comments
Tyrone Reid, Senior Staff Reporter
TWO JAMAICANS were aboard the ill-fated cruise ship - the Costa Concordia - that ran aground off the coast of Tuscany, Italy, on Friday, January 13, and capsized leaving at least 12 dead.
Both men worked in the kitchen. One was a chef from St Mary and the other a first cook from St Ann.
Antonio Wright, who worked as a chef, has high praises for the Costa Cruise Line, but labelled the vessel's captain a coward. The captain, Francesco Schettino, is under house arrest, accused of multiple manslaughter, causing a shipwreck, and abandoning ship before all passengers were evacuated. The captain denies the claims.
The Jamaican, who has been working with the Costa Cruise Line for some two decades, vividly described the hellish scenes onboard the ship before it capsized. It was pure pandemonium; high drama in a relatively shallow section of the seas. Wright said when the cruise ship ran aground, it felt like an earthquake.
"The whole ship vibrated. People were screaming and crying. They panicked and didn't know what to do," he recalled.
Plates, pots and pans crashed to the ground and other objects were sent flying like missiles across the kitchen. Some of the cooks were injured by the flying objects," said Wright.
The captain finally gave the abandon ship order at 11:15 p.m., he said.
According to Wright, the cable being used to lower the life raft into the ocean got stuck and it was left suspended in mid air. Again, the passengers and crew members panicked. "You just had to quieten them and let them hold hands and don't panic until we reach down."
Wright said that there were times when fear gripped him but he tried to stay calm. "Of course (I was afraid) but I never panicked."
After surviving the "really terrifying ordeal", Wright said he will take a short sabbatical after which he will be back at sea. "Yeah man. That's my life.
Up to yesterday, the death count reached 12. According to the BBC, 20 people are still missing after the ship, with 4,200 people on board, struck a rock in shallow waters off Tuscany's Giglio Island.