01/20/2012, 00.00
PHILIPPINES

Costa Concordia: Filipino waiters and cooks hailed as national heroes

Almost 300 members of the ship’s crew are from the Philippines. They helped passengers evacuate the ship, putting their own lives on the line. Their action has been seen around the country thanks to an amateur video shot during the rescue operation.
Manila (AsiaNews) – Two-hundred ninety-six Filipinos (pictured) working on the MS Costa Concordia as waiters, dishwaters, cooks and cleaners have become national heroes for saving hundreds of passengers during the ship’s evacuation.

Now partially submerged, the Costa Concordia is a cruise ship that capsized off Giglio Island, in Tuscany (Italy), after it ran aground. The ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, is under house arrest for dereliction of duty when he abandoned ship before all passengers were rescued. He is currently the object of an international media campaign. The ship’s operators, Costas Cruisers, are trying to lay all the blame for the accident on him.

The actions of the Filipino staff have made the front pages of Filipino newspapers. An amateur video made by a crewmember shows waiters, cooks and stewardesses, going around helping injured and panic-stricken passengers.

News reports have highlighted survivors’ stories, describing the heroic behaviour of Filipino staff on the Costa Concordia.

“Those who helped us were cooks and stewardesses, all Filipinos," a French tourist said. “They roped themselves together to help us get down to the lifeboats.”

Soon after the incident, President Aquino said, “You are men and women of courage, heroism and dedication. We commend you for showing to the world the best traits of the Filipino seafarers.”

So far, 11 people are confirmed dead from the incident, with an additional 24 still missing.

Since yesterday, search inside the capsized vessel stopped after it started shifting on the seabed, about 150 metres from shore.

Among the 296 Filipinos on board, one was found dead and 21 were injured. (S.C.)
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