Reporting Holly Wagner
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A woman from Lakeville, Minn. is talking about her experience on the Italian cruise ship that crashed into rocks near the Italian Coast on Friday.
Ronda Rosenthal was on vacation with her sister, Vivian Shafer, when it happened. Both are in the process of trying to get back to the U.S.
The sisters said they had been getting ready for bed when the lights went out, and there was an announcement about a technical difficulty.
“They told us it was a technical problem. (They said) everything is going to be OK, no problem, go back to your room. Everything is going to be OK,” said Rosenthal.
When the ship started to tilt they knew they were in trouble. The sisters said they looked out and saw people getting in lifeboats.
“There wasn’t anybody to help you. There was so little information. They didn’t prepare the people. I mean, if they had just told us, you know, we are evacuating for your safety. Please put on warm coats,” said Shafer.
The women didn’t take anything with them. They said it was frantic rush to get off the ship. They waited 40 minutes to get on a lifeboat and received little direction from the crew, but the two made it to shore on a lifeboat.
“We had to go four or five gates down before we found the lifeboat that we could get into. Then the people were very angry that we got on that lifeboat because it was very crowded,” said Rosenthal.
“It was pretty bizarre. We were lucky. I mean other people, their lifeboats got hung up and they got hurt,” said Shafer.
Italian media say five more bodies have been found aboard a cruise ship that capsized off the coast of Tuscany, raising the official death toll to 11. Before the latest find, 29 people from the cruise ship were still missing. Officials said the missing included 14 Germans, six Italians, four French, two Americans, one Hungarian, one Indian and one Peruvian.
That tally of 29 is 13 more than first believed, and it includes a couple from White Bear Lake, Minn.
On Tuesday, rescue crews set off several explosions on the ship to create holes to make it easier for divers to search the missing.
Meanwhile, the captain of the ship is in jail facing the possibility of numerous charges from manslaughter to causing a shipwreck.
He claims he hit an “unmarked” reef but the company that owns the cruise ship said it was the captain’s fault for going off-course.
Despite passengers’ claims that the crew was directionless and didn’t know what to do during the evacuation, the company says the crew acted swiftly and bravely and routinely practices evacuations.