200 Indian crewmembers will leave Rome for India soon after cruise company agrees on compensation package, including wages and allowances
As 200 of the 202 Indian crewmembers onboard the Italian Cruise liner Costa Concordia that sank off the Tuscan Coast on Friday return home today and tomorrow, the cruise company has agreed upon a compensation package for them.
According to Indian Embassy's first secretary Vishwesh Negi, on Tuesday, the crewmembers had a detailed discussion with Costa Cruises officials, who finally agreed to pay them five months of salary including other allowances, which was one of the crew's main concerns.
Search is on: At least six people have died in the mishap. Five days on,
divers are still trying to find more survivors. pic/getty images
After the package was negotiated, tickets were arranged for most of the crewmembers to fly home. Negi said, "A total of 200 Indians are leaving Italy in the coming two days (Thursday and Friday). Russel Rebello is still missing and his friend Nikhil Mulati has expressed his desire to stay with his wife Teresa in Naples, Italy. The cruise company has managed to provide 194 air tickets from Italy to Dubai and then connecting flights to India. The remaining six Indians will leave once they get their air tickets."
Negi added, "Initially, the first batch of 25 Indians were to leave for India on Tuesday evening, but since a meeting was arranged with the cruise company officials in the evening, they were made to stay back in Rome." At the time of going to press, the first batch of 86 Indians had left their hotel rooms for the airport in Rome.
Negi said they would take the Air Italia flight for Dubai, where they would take connecting flights to Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi etc, and thereon proceed by road to their respective destinations.
Search for Russel on
Meanwhile, efforts are on to locate Russel Rebello, the only Indian who went missing after the mishap. His aged parents and wife continue to hope for a miracle.
When contacted in Naples, his close friend Nikhil said, "I do not want to say anything."
'Rescue op is on'
Though a rough sea forced rescue operations to be called off on Wednesday, Negi said the search operations are still underway, as opposed to certain media claims.
Asked if the five dead bodies recovered on Tuesday were identified, Negi said, "Only two have been identified so far. One of them is an Italian national while the other is a Spaniard. The other three await recognition."
Negi said that Russel's brother Kevin is assisting the rescue team along with other family members of missing crew to help identify people where possible.
Officials had said earlier that in all, 29 people were missing from the ship, including four crewmembers and 25 passengers.
Officials at Air Borne recruiting agency in the city said, "We are in constant touch with the Italian cruise company and they have been informed that the search and rescue operation will continue to look for the missing people."
Industry sources revealed that the Italian Cruise Company was keen to carry out a salvage operation and make an attempt to make the half-submerged vessel upright, to minimise environmental damage due to any diesel leak.