Less than a month after the cruise ship Costa Concordia ran aground and tipped into the water off the coast of Italy, National Geographic Channel will air the first US documentary detailing the disaster moment by moment.
“Italian Cruise Ship Disaster: The Untold Stories” premieres Sunday, February 12, at 7:00 pm ET/PT; with an encore broadcast Monday, February 13, at 10:00 pm ET/PT.
Nat Geo’s one-hour special weaves together in-depth stories from passengers and staff on board as well as Coast Guard rescuers with stunning home video (some never before seen on US television) and CGI to reconstruct the sinking of the Costa Concordia as it happened.
How did the ship sink? Could it have been prevented? Why weren’t the passengers warned earlier? What are the similarities to and differences from the Titanic? Italian Cruise Ship Disaster: The Untold Stories works to understand this current headline tragedy more fully — from the time the luxury cruise liner departs from the Italian mainland to the collision with rocks that tear a 160-foot gash in the port side, and from floodwaters that rush in to the delayed passenger alert to the desperate evacuation.
On January 13, 2012, the Costa Concordia was carrying more than 3,200 passengers and 1,000 crew, including Americans Sameer and Divya Sharma from Massachusetts, who were celebrating their fifth wedding anniversary, and 18-year-old Amanda Warrick, another Massachusetts resident, who had never been to Europe and was traveling with her older brothers. It’s Friday the 13th, and while the Sharmas shrug off any bad luck, the Warrick siblings toss out the idea that “something’s gonna happen.”
The nightmare is soon realized. The ship detours off course and hits the rocks. Amanda describes the immediate impact, saying, “At first there was a tilt and a shake of the ship, that’s when tables and glasses started crashing. I was kind of in shock, I remember immediately standing up and looking at my brothers. I was just kind of speechless and silent.”
Moments later, a blackout. Twenty-one-year-old Kirsty Cheslyn-Nuttal, a singer on the ship, describes how the captain’s deck notifies them of an “electrical failure” that they were “working to restore,” so she said, “my friends got their laptops and we all sat in the corridor watching films [laughs] … we were unaware completely.”
Italian Cruise Ship Disaster: The Untold Stories outlines the chaos of the day, including the passengers’ calls to the Coast Guard, the Coast Guard’s calls to the ship, the ship’s response that there was a blackout but that it was under control, and the continued announcements that everything was fine. Nearly one hour after the impact, the captain calls an emergency on board.
Hear the panicked stories as passengers and crew describe the scramble to get on to the last remaining lifeboats, jumping off and swimming frantically to shore, those waiting for helicopter rescue, the Coast Guard’s search for survivors, and the outrage over the captain’s abandoning ship.
Italian Cruise Ship Disaster: The Untold Stories is produced by Dragonfly TV for National Geographic Channel (NGC). For Dragonfly TV, executive producers are Alison Turner, Simon Dickson and Mark Roberts. Edit producer is Martin Pupp, and producers and directors are Marc Tiley and Paul O’Connor. For NGC, executive producer is Michael Welsh and executive vice president of programming is Michael Cascio.