Oksana, what did you feel at the moment of crash?
- There was a strong impact and I fell off the bad, but I did not panic. I took only my purse with documents and left the cabin. It's a pity I could not take all my things. I hate to lose something I spent much time to collect. Besides, there were presents for my relatives. Anyway, after all it was a crash, thanks God I am still alive.
Hence, the situation was really life threatening?
- Of course. But the threat came not from the ship itself, as it was sinking really slowly, but during the evacuation. Nobody instructed us about descent, some people were simply jumping into the water, and I think not all of them reached the coast. It turned out that lifeboats were not enough for all passengers. Some parents, saving their children, were literally throwing them into leaving boats. For sure someone got hurt. Besides, someone fell under propellers, I think.
I was with my boyfriend, and we can swim, but the water was cold. You cannot swim in such water for long, even having special preparation. It was scary, yes. We were afraid that the ship would turn over leaving no way to get out.
Then the light went off and the ship started to lurch, but on the radio we heard only about malfunction of main generator. The mayday signal came too late. Then everybody started to board on lifeboats, but there were too many people and they all hustled round the exit spots. The ship lurched more and the neighboring lifeboat fell on the lower deck. People started to panic. Our lifeboat was put down without accidents. Besides, the cruise ship never sank, just turned on the side.
From your words it seems that the ship crew acted unprofessionally.
- In a way, yes. At the moment of crash we were not told what to do, how to leave safely, but the crew acted as a team - was holding the crowd and so on.
The problem was the language. All announcements were made in English or Italian, though hundreds of tourists were from Russian speaking countries. Besides, our men showed their best helping passengers and the crew, while some Western passengers, men precisely, were running around with wide-opened eyes trying to save their a...souls and getting in the way.
How were you treated by locals?
- Oh, the locals were very hospitable. We were placed in a facility, some shelter for tourists, I think, and local services were running around. I am not sure that if similar accident happened near our coast, the victims would receive so much attention.
I remember one carabineer, who invited everyone to his house in case we did not like conditions in the shelter. He was bringing us coffee and wine.
How was the return to Ukraine?
- We arrived on Sunday. Our law enforcement bodies worked fast, unlike of other countries. In the airport we were met by representatives of the Foreign Ministry and psychologists. At that very moment I did not realize completely what had actually happened. But now, when I recall my hands are shaking. I am happy that everything is behind.
As far as we know, some Ukrainian survivors plan to suit the company-transporter...
- I heard about it, but frankly speaking I have no desire to do it now. I just want to recover senses first. May be one day I will tell it as a story to my children and relatives, but it will happen later, after some time.
Note: The longshot search for survivors in the Italian cruise ship wreck were suspended Wednesday. The death toll at this point is 11, and the chances of finding anyone alive dwindle with each passing day. Italian authorities released the names of 28 people initially listed as missing — 24 passengers and four crew.
Captain Francesco Schettino was arrested Saturday, hours after the giant cruise ship ran aground on Giglio, but released from prison in the early hours of Wednesday and placed under house arrest by an investigating judge. He awaits trial on accusations of multiple manslaughter and abandoning ship.
Costa Cruises owner declared an intention to offer free cruises for survivors as a compensation. However, experts on tourist market doubt the victims would agree on such conditions and would demand financial compensation. Foreign Ministry of Ukraine is considering the possibility to support Ukraine's citizens in their claims.
Italian association on consumers' rights Altroconsumo declared that according to contracts, concluded with Costa Cruises, clients-victims can expect financial compensation up to 500 thousand euro in case of injuries, up to 20 thousand euro for baggage loss and up to 50 thousand euros for other kinds of damage, including psychological one.
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