Cruise ship “Costa Concordia” wrecked 10 years ago: “The crew was totally overwhelmed”

Grosseto/Lübeck – It was Friday January 13, 2012 when the disaster happened.

Exactly 10 years ago, the cruise ship “Costa Concordia” crashed into a rock off the Italian island of Giglio and overturned. 32 people died, Captain Francesco Schettino (61) was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

When Sandra Birnstiel (48) from Lübeck (Schleswig-Holstein) thinks back on how she survived the accident, she looks at a pair of black trainers. The slip-resistant soles of the sneakers kept him from slipping on the ship’s wet deck.



As if she had guessed it: two days before the disaster, Sandra Birnstiel (48) posed on board the “Costa Concordia” with a lifebuoyPhoto: Private


Birnstiel wore these black trainers on the day of the accident

Birnstiel wore these black trainers on the day of the accidentPhoto: Private


Today the survivor can laugh again

Today the survivor can laugh againPhoto: Private

Sandra narrowly escaped death, even though she shouldn’t have been on board at all.

But then acquaintances had to abandon the trip, instead Sandra boarded with her friend Bianca (42). “I will never forget the day of the accident”, says the social worker: “Bianca and I were in the cabin watching TV. Suddenly there was a rumbling. Then the electricity went out. extinct.


After more than 18 months in the water, the ship's corridors were overgrown with plants and algae

After more than 18 months in the water, the ship’s corridors were overgrown with plants and algaePhoto: Carabinieri

The two women grabbed their IDs and credit cards and stormed onto the deck: “The lifeboats couldn’t be launched. I heard screams. The panic The crew was completely overwhelmed.

Sandra on the dramatic moments: “Actually, we wanted to jump into the water. Suddenly, someone shouted: ‘There’s a lifeboat coming!’. On board, we looked again at our cabin on Deck 1 – she was completely submerged.


Captain Francesco Schettino (61) fled the ship after the accident.  He has been behind bars since 2017

Captain Francesco Schettino (61) fled the ship after the accident. He has been behind bars since 2017Photo: Munster View

By the time the women were rescued, the captain and officers had long since abandoned ship!

After a long dispute, Sandra received more than 20,000 euros in compensation from the shipping company and underwent therapy. In 2015, she dared to go on a cruise again: “It went to the North Cape. It was good.”

This is how the accident happened

► 7:00 p.m.: The “Costa Concordia” departs from the port of Civitavecchia to the northwest of Rome.

► 9:45 p.m.: The luxury liner hit a rock off the island of Giglio.



The ship’s bell of the ‘Costa Concordia’ was meant to be a memorial – but was stolen from a depth of eight metersPhoto: dpa

► 10:20 p.m.: The safety officer informs Captain Schettino that the engine room is flooded.

► 10:36 p.m .: It is only now that Costa’s crew announces to the port authority that they are in distress.

► Midnight: Captain Schettino abandons the ship while 32 people drown in their cabins or while trying to reach the shore.

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