They lived to tell their tale
MiD DAY spoke to survivors of the Costa Concordia tragedy who returned home yesterday amid tears of sorrow and joy and related their ordeal
"I will never allow him to go back on any ship again," said a watery-eyed Jasmine Da Cunha, wife of Loyed, one of the survivors of the Costa Concordia tragedy.
On that fateful day, Loyed was sleeping in his cabin room, when suddenly he heard a loud noise, which was accompanied by a violent jerk.
Loyed Da Cunha, one of the survivors of the Costa Concordia tragedy, with his family at his Vasai home. Pics/PRAMOD DETHE
"After the tug, I ran to the engine room, where water was already seeping in. I ran to deck 4, and within minutes the captain announced the emergency," recalled a visibly disturbed Loyed.
Asked about his missing companion Russel Rebello, Loyed, fighting back his tears, said, "On that night, Russel and I had dinner together in the base room and wished each other good night. After that I did not see him again."
Narrating the ordeal of the passengers on the cruise liner that ran aground off the Tuscan coast last week, he said, "That was the last night of the seven-day cruise."
Oscar Gracious with his family at Vasai home
Asked if the media reports that the captain altered the ship's standard course were true, Loyed said, "I have also heard that the captain took another route, as he wanted to show the huge ship to someone at the Giglio Island. But I don't know how true this is. When I jumped off that ship, I had my beloved daughters' faces in front of my eyes."
Before jumping into a lifeboat, Loyed made sure his cell phone was safe and contacted his family as soon as the boat touched land, where he along with the rescued crewmembers were accommodated in a church.
Narrating the nightmare they had been living before Loyed's return, his wife Jasmine said, "We have spent some of the most tense and helpless moments of our lives the past week.
Neighbours greet Brian and Brenjoy at their home
It is only when he returned home today that I could breathe easy." She added that their elder daughter Astrid was aware of the tragedy and told her friends, "Daddy chi boat budali (Daddy's boat has sunk)."
"Lord has always showered his grace on me and this is for the second time that my life was saved by him," said Oscar Gracious, stating that he was to be a part of Louis Sea Diamond that sank near the Greek island of Santorina in 2007.
"As an electrician, it was my first contract in the shipping sector. However, it got delayed due to some technicality and I could not be a part of that liner.
When I heard that the ship had sunk near a Greek island, I considered myself lucky for not being a part of it. But I wasn't afraid to take another contract. However, Costa Concordia tragedy is the worst experience of my life," he said.
Recalling his ordeal, Oscar said, "We were playing cards when we heard passengers screaming. We dashed off to deck-0 and saw passengers running helter-skelter for cover. Initially, the captain announced that the ship had developed a technical snag and asked all the crewmembers to take their positions. T
he moment all the members finished reporting, there was a total blackout, and the captain announced abandoning."
By the time Oscar moved on to deck-1 the ship had already tilted. "We were struggling to move forward on the deck as the ship had tilted by almost ninety degrees. We were rescued soon enough. I can never forget the sight of the giant boat sinking in water," concluded Oscar.
As soon as the word spread that the Lopes brothers have returned home, the entire neighbourhood formed a queue outside their residence to meet the brothers who managed to escape from jaws of death.
Brian, who worked as a swimming pool attendant on the cruise liner, said, "When we realised that the ship was sinking, we hurriedly helped passengers leave the vessel, and then came to the rescue of the crew. Then we assisted in shifting handicapped passengers into lifeboats."
For the Lopes brothers, the most horrific moment came when they couldn't find each other. "It took me a day and a half to locate my kid brother Brenjoy as he we was put in another hotel," recalled Brian. The neighbourhood even arranged a party to commemorate the brothers' return.