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tv   Cruise to Disaster  CNN  July 14, 2012 5:00pm-6:00pm PDT

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you back here at 10:00 eastern. "cnn presents" cruise to disaster begins right now. -- captions by vitac -- >> friday, 13th of january. italian cruise ship sta concordia has just left its port. the more than 4,000 passengers and crew on board have no idea of the terror that was about to unfold. >> all of the sudden, bang. the lights went out. and the ship lifted. >> thesight side of the ship is the bottom of the ship. >> everybody was panicking.
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everybody was running for their own lives. >> it showed the kind of chaos the ill preparedness they had. >> i remember thinking, we're going to die. just get it over with. >> today, the costa concordia lies on its side off the italian island. one of the largest cruise ships in the world ripped apart by rocks. 32 people died on this ship on that cold, january night. a cnn investigation has pieced together the multiple failures of that night and their far-reaching consequences for the cruise ship lines. the tragic mistakes on board the costa concordia raised the question. just how safe is going on a cruise? >> the safety of our passengers and crew is absolutely essential to our business. >> the bigger they build those
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boats, the more likely people are not going to be able to escape when they have a serious incident. >> reporter: 100 years after the titanic, the cruise industry is once again coming to terms with a disaster that no one thought was possible. the titanic ushered in a new era of regulation at sea. now, many are wondering if the k costa concordia shows these cruise ships are too big, too complex and the rules of the sea are simply too olt. >> georgia and her husband, dean, are cruise veterans. they've been on more than 60. for their cruise on the conco concord concordia, they were joined by that you are daughters valerie and cindy. >> i've been going on cruises since i was a year old. >> reporter: for hector and
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sahean, it was their first trip to europe and their first cruise. they embarked at barcelona, but they weren't impressed by the safety briefing. >> then they showed you the life vest, things like that. but we never went through the physical procedure of which deck or how to get to your master station. >> for the family, this cruise didn't feel right from the very beginning. >> we didn't really have any direction from any of the representatives. >> reporter: the costa line is part of the biggest cruise company in the world. the florida-based carnival corporation. the captain of the concordia known for his seaman ship but is also regarded by some colleagues as arrogant. on their first night at sea, the annanius family gathered for dinner soon after 9:00.
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>> there was a vibration. i thought, oh, well, he's probably slowing down. then i told valerie, i said look at the glasses. they're starting to tilt. he started to make a hard turn to the starboard. >> captain schettino himself had been in the restaurant a short time earlier in the company of a young woman. then, he took her up to the bridge. his attorney, bruno insists schettino was not distracted. >> translator: her presence had no influence at all. and she wasn't on the bridge in the sense of the place where the ship is managed. she was very far back. >> reporter: schettino admitted to an italian news station he was distracted by a phone conversation shortly before the crash. captain schettino had promised a salute to the island sailing very close to land to show off the ship to people ashore.
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it was a custom residents come to expect. later, first officer ambrosio had ordered the helmsman to turn away from the island. >> schettino relieved ambrosio of his duty and ordered the helmsman to keep the route and increase speed. >> reporter: the concordia was traveling at some 15 knots. too fast so close to the shore. costa's nautical operations manager. >> sometimes we pass a close to land. but for me, close is one mile, one and a half miles. >> reporter: the concordia was much closer than that. a singer on costa ships for over ten years was in the rum bar with musician husband. >> it was a normal night lt.
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the band was playing and at 9:40, we feel a movement. not a crash. a movement. >> and, all of the sudden, bang. and the lights went out. and the screaming and the ship lifted. and people got up when the lights went out, they panicked and went to run and were falling all over the floor and so forth. >> carl and perez were in a restaurant on a lower deck. >> the plates on tables with wheels, they started rolling to the side and the waiters, they just ran towards the place because they were falling against the walls and they were breaking on the floor. >> and i ran and there was a worker over there who stood at the doorway. and he just blocked it like this. and he said calm down. calm down. just go back. just go back. so i was surprised that he was
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telling me to go back in the room, which is falling apart. >> reporter: miles from its charted course, the concordia's port side was ripped open. schettino later insisted the reef he hit wasn't marked. >> i don't know if it was detected or not. but on the nautical chart, it was marked at just water. and we were about 300 meters from the shore, more or less. we shouldn't have had this contact. >> reporter: locals told cnn, "liscole" are clearly marked on nautical charts. >> that's why i think it should be the -- the only possibility should be only that one. >> reporter: such was the force of the collision, a huge chunk
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of rock the size of a car ended up embedded in the hull of the concordia. within moments, the engine room director reported the engine control room and the electrical panel were under six feet of water. but the severity of the situation was kept from passengers. >> translator: everything is all right. please do not panic. it's okay. it's just a motor problem and the technicians are trying to fix it ch and a lot of people were not believing them, but there are a good majority of people who actually believed them, listened to them and went back to their rooms. >> reporter: but within an hour, passengers would be fighting the rising waters, desperate to escape the doomed costa concordia. [ mrs. hutchison ] friday night has always been all fun and games
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its pumps didn't work. and neither did the computer designed to calculate the ship's stability. this video was taken on the bridge in the minutes after the collision. the crew rushed to maintain control of the ship, as five supposedly water-tight compartments rapidly filled with water. according ining to data obtain cnn, more than 6,000 gallons of water entered the ship in less than 20 minutes. >> in a few minutes, we realized that the situation was serious, as three generators were not working. the navigation system was not working. and neither was the emergency board. >> reporter: yes, amid the ship's systematic failures, captain schettino down played the situation. >> the captain told the cruise director to make calming announcements. that it was an electrical problem.
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>> please remain calm and we'll keep you informed. thank you for your attention. >> reporter: some passengers didn't believe it. >> why would the boat start tilting to the side if it's electrical. from the beginning, they're lyin >> reporter: as the crisis unfolded, many of the rules for handling emergencies at sea appeared to be ignored. >> no one knew anything. there was no direction. we hadn't had a muster drill, so we didn't know which one was our station. >> reporter: the ship's lifeboats were on deck four. the parents had to crawl two floors back to their cabin where they grabbed three life jackets. hector perez and sahean khan were also on deck four. >> luckily, he found two life jackets lying around on the deck. when we put it on, we didn't know how to strap it, what to do, how to tie it on, nothing.
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we were never given the training. >> reporter: as a crew member blocks them from getting on the lifeboat. >> he kept on telling me we need to wait for the instructions of the captain. i cannot open the door of this boat because the captain has not given the order. >> the concordia's crew members followed company policy. >> well, according to the training we give to all of our crew member, if you don't sound the emergency signals, they do nothing. they just wait. >> reporter: captain schettino made a series of calls, as many as 17. but what he said is a matter of bitter dispute. his lawyer insists he hid nothing. >> translator: captain schettino immediately, promptly informed the company of what had happened and kept it constantly informed. >> reporter: costa ceo claims
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otherwise. >> the first information that we have says absolutely the contrary. didn't sound as serious, indeed, at the end, it was. >> authorities were first notified of the incident not by the crew, but from cell phone calls from passengers at at least half an hour after the collision. a few minutes later, costa headquarters here in rome started flooding into these computer. >> but they didn't call. we called them. we called them twice. >> reporter: coast guard commander says the coast guard was forced to reach out to the rapidly sinking ship. >> so we called the ship and the ship said that there was just a blackout on board. they don't see that there was an emergency. >> reporter: costa executives acknowledge this was a major mistake.
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>> if i'm the captain of the ship and need help, you have to call the right people, the right person. and the coast guard, in that case, was the right place to call to receive immediate help. >> reporter: the concordia continued north losing speed before turning toward the south and moving slowly toward the coastline. the scene on the deck was chaotic as the ship began to lift heavily. >> screaming, yelling. >> angry, sliding, falling. crying. >> reporter: on the bridge, there was still hesitation about sounding the alarm. at 10:48 p.m., one hour after concordia's crash, schettino finally sounded the general alarm which officially ordered passengers to emergency stations. that delay is now the focus of an italian judicial inquiry. besides the captain, as many as eight other crew members and
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managers face possible criminal charges. sounding the emergency alarm as early as possible can be critical for saving lives, according to professor maritime safety specialist in london. >> moving passengers around a ship in an emergency situation is never an easy thing to do. so you want to start that process, the assembly process, as soon as you suspect that there is a major problem with the vessel. >> it was way too long. way too long. and they would have saved so many lives if they would have done it a lot earlier. >> reporter: schettino told investigators he delayed the alarm until he could maneuver the ship close to the shore. >> translator: he has always said the ship was located there because he made a choice to order the abandonment when he considered the coast close enough for rescue boats. >> schettino also said he didn't want to create panic. but that's exactly what happened.
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>> it was people knocking people down and we kept yelling put the kids on first. get the kids. we're screaming get the kids on first. >> reporter: moments after the ship came to rest, the first lifeboats were launched. it was 11:00 p.m. but, then, the concordia rolled more than 20 degrees. for the annalius family, escaping just became a lot harder. ...and yellowed. because if you're not whitening, you're yellowing. crest whitestrips remove over ten years of stains and whiten 25 times better than a leading whitening toothpaste. crest 3d white whitestrips.
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when the order to abandon ship was given, hector perez and sahean khan were at a lifeboat. the crew member who barred access to the boat told passengers to calm down. >> as soon as he opened the door, everybody ran towards that emergency boat and pushed him out of the way. everybody was panicking. everybody was running for their own lives. >> the ship, right now, is totally leaning to one side. >> reporter: this cell phone video shot by hector perez has never been seen before on television. he shot it as they boarded the lifeboat. it had seats for 150 people.
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>> a lot of them didn't realize that they were going to let people jump into the boat without an actual seat. those that realized it, they jumped into the boat and they just stayed standing on the boat. it was way over 150 people limit. >> reporter: the boat carrying khan and perez made it to the sea, but even then, they were not safe. >> i look up and i see the emergency boat, a, it goes sideways, one way. suddenly, it went this way again and it fell right on top of our boat. >> if our boat would have turned when we were evacuating and the second boat fell on us, we would have been dead. >> reporter: several lifeboats couldn't be lowered. and with the ship lifting, the problems of evacuating people multiplied. the annulius family boarded a
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lifeboat but were forced to return to the ship when the lifeboat wouldn't launch. once back on board -- >> bam. people screaming. >> it takes another roll to the starboard side. >> reporter: one of the crew told investigators that some officers literally pushed passengers into the water. but the annulius family turned around and tried to climb across the ship with nothing to hold onto. >> the side of the ship is now the bottom of the ship. so you're literally walking on the side of the ship. >> reporter: the speed with which the concordia tilted, first one way and then the other, has alarmed maritime experts. >> this is the safety of life at sea rule book. the maritime safety "bible" if you like, issued by the
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international maritime authority here in london. it specifies that ships could remain stable with two watertight compartments flooded and they should be able to be evacuated within 30 minutes. but the loss of power, the flooding of the pumps and back-up generators had turned the concordia into a helpless hope. as the water continued to rise, the ship tilted yet further. more than 60 degrees. >> and then i remember us all starting to pray and saying our good-byes. and i remember thinking oh my gosh, we're going to die. let's just get it over with. >> while the annulius family prayed, captain schettino was leaving the stricken liner. he said later he'd fallen into a lifeboat as the ship suddenly lifted. a claim his lawyer subsequently modified.
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>> translator: so captain schettino exited the ship as all the others who were located on that side at that time exited. it was impossible to stay there and impossible to climb up because it was a nearly vertical wall. there was no voluntary abandon ship. captain schettino is not captain coward. >> reporter: by now, it was nearly 1:00 in the morning. the annulius family and dozens of other passengers are still trying to climb a metal ladder to reach the outside of the ship. but it was still a mad scramble to escape. >> men pushing women aside, pushing children aside. >> i put my foot down. i said this is not going to happen. i'm not going to sit here and watch one other man jump in front of his mother and child to get his way up there. it wasn't going to happen. >> reporter: the annulius family would be among the last to escape the concordia alive.
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jumping 10 feet into a moving lifeboat and, even then, feeling they were on their own. >> they just said they tried to get the boat as close as possible. they just told us to jump. that was it. >> reporter: months later, georgia and her family believe their experience on the concordia is a wake up call for the entire industry. >> i really feel for passengers getting on board a ship. yeah, they say it's safe and it's the best way to go. but, you know, you get in a disaster like this and you see what happens and you see how unprepared they are. passengers really need to be aware. >> and, on that at least rare agreement with captain schettino's lawyer. >> translator: i would be astonished if the industry said something true, which would perhaps be good to say about its own organizational systems about why maybe there could be safety problems. but the fact is, everyone is
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comfortable having a scapegoat. especially the industry. >> an industry under scrutiny because of tragic mistakes that raised the troubling question. will you be safe as your cruise heads out to sea? almost tastes like one of jack's cereals. fiber one. uh, forgot jack's cereal. [ jack ] what's for breakfast? um... try the number one! [ jack ] yeah, this is pretty good. [ male announcer ] half a day's worth of fiber. fiber one.
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immediately after the concordia disaster, captain schettino became a target for media around the world. especially when a caustic call between the captain and the coast guard was released, showing the coast guard ordering the captain back on ship. >> reporter: costa executives insist the company was blameless, given captain schettino's actions. >> just like an airline captain who's going to land in paris flying 10 meters over the eiffle tower. you can do it, but nobody is expecting a captain toe so irresponsible.
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>> the chances of something happening to somebody are so much greater simply because of the compaction. >> but u.s. senator who chaired a hearing into the cruise industry weeks after the disaster, says the company bears responsibility. >> the cruise ship is the captain. right? i mean, he's not -- he didn't wander in on his own and start turning the wheel or whatever it is, pushing buttons? i mean, the company is the captain. the captain is the company. >> reporter: costa and some other lines have made changes since the concordia disaster. current regulations say there must be an assembly drill within 24 hours of em bar kags. now, those drills are held before a ship leaves port. but that wasn't the case with the costa concordia. hector perez says safety officers went so far as to encourage passengers to ignore the lecture all together. >> he told everybody that we're all adults here.
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that we came here to have fun and to go spend your money at the casinos. there's nice restaurants, to go to the restaurants and to basically just place your red, emergency drill cards in front of the table and he will scan them on your way out. >> reporter: aer the accident, clia, the largest industry lobbying group and european counter part, announced changes in the way ships would handle emergencies. passengers would be given 12 specific instructions that include how to build a life jacket, where to gather in an emergency and what to expect if an evacuation is ordered. some cruise lines are beginning to look at the way the bridge is managed. as cruise ships have taken on more passengers and more size, the captain's responsibleties have grown proportionately. costa's ceo says other offices need to be given more authority on board. >> we need to learn from this tragic accident and we have to
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move more towards a collective management of the bridge through training. >> reporter: but european officials tell cnn they are deeply concerned by a shortage of qualified, junior officers throughout the industry. there are concerns about the support staff, as well. many of the service crew members are contract workers. they have little job security, often earn less than a thousand dollars a month and many don't speak english. costa insists on its ships, there is rigorous training for every member of the crew and they generally have a higher pay scale. >> furthermore, we are checked by inspection. >> reporter: singer santini says half the crew members on the concordia were well-trained. >> and we have every day in the morning and in the afternoon for
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ten days, the boat drill. every day. we're with a trainer and, i don't know, for example, for fire or for the leaking or for the emergency. for everything what happened on board. >> reporter: but many of the passengers who fought for their lives say the company was as much to blame as its captain. >> hiring people who aren't trained, hire people that don't know what they're doing, not anticipating disaster, not taking life seriously aboard the cruise ship. >> the cruise industry is reviewing crew training and a practice known as touristic navigation. sailing close to land. >> you sort of salute the island and move away, in total security. that has happened five or six times. bu it's totally regulated. you don't come as close as the costa concordia went. >> reporter: but should it
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continue? just six months earlier, the concordia, with a different captain, followed an almost identical course. costa insists it was never closer than 550 yards to the shore. but using tracking navigation, the earlier voyage was just 250 yards from colliding with the same rocks. international regulation requires the airline industry to track every movement of each plane. but there are no similar, worldwide guidelines for the cruise industry. italy's coast guard only monitors ships in areas with the highest shipping traffic. the system used to display the location of its ships, at the time of the crash, costa's tracking system was unable to provide minute-by-minute location data for the ship. since then, costa has upgraded their tracking technology. but questions still remain.
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>> i suppose the families of the victims would say why o earth wasn't this introduced 20 years ago, the gps technology has been around for a long time. >> i'm not sure about 20 years ago -- >> reporter: how about 10 years? >> i think it's a legitimate question for the family of the victim. again, it's unfortunate that we have to from tragedy. we have to take this and move forward. >> reporter: the wreck has also highlighted the size of today's cruise ships. the costa concordia was almost three times the weight of the titanic and much larger. most experts say the size of modern cruise ships does not affect their stability unless the structural integrity of the ship is compromised. >> there we are. >> reporter: phillip wilson, professor of ship dynamics. >> the center of gravity is in
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the right place, the center of buoyancy is in the right place. the center of buoyancy is half way down the draft of the ship. if you try to hold a frying pan with water and move it a bit, it becomes very unstable very quickly. it's a free surface effect. it's the same with a ship. >>. >> reporter: but the larger a ship is, the more difficult it is to evacuate. >> and so it might mean you have to have more assembly stations or you might have to locate the assembly stations in different locations. >> and with bigger ships and more passengers, traditional lifeboats may not be adequate. >> if a ship takes on an angle of greater than 20 degrees, it becomes virtually impossible to launch lifeboats using the traditional launch approach. there are skids on the side, but perhaps a better way of launching those lifeboats that would enable the boats to more
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easily slide down the side of the vessel. >> reporter: but the question remains. will the cruise ship industry put your safety before their bottom line? >> it's not sometimes just a matter of doing what the law says, but doing what you think is appropriate. do you think you're doing your fair share? i don't have to use gas. i am probably going to the gas station about once a month. drive around town all the time doing errands and never ever have to fill up gas in the city. i very rarely put gas in my chevy volt. last time i was at a gas station was about...i would say... two months ago. the last time i went to the gas station must have been about three months ago. i go to the gas station such a small amount that i forget how to put gas in my car. ♪ until i got a job in the big apple. adjusting to city life was hard for me. and becoming a fulltime indoor cat wasn't easy for atti.
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in the weeks and months after the costa concordia disaster, many passengers reported signs of trauma. >> the first month was hell for me. almost every night, i was having nightmares, especially of the deck as i was waiting there a few hours. sometimes i dream with my family that we're all running for our lives. >> reporter: but the fine print of the passenger's tickets severely limits compensation offered by costa. >> there's a huge page of terms and conditions. actually two pages. i it's like the newspaper. >> i lost everything on that boat. i lost laptops, i lost memories. they offered me 11,000 euros. that was supposed to release them from everything and anything that had to do with this accident. >> 11,000 euros, about $14,000
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is the minimum compensation under international law. >> they were condescending. they were rude. >> sunday morning, 5:00 in the morning, west coast time. >> offering 30% off your next cruise. >> and then they started harassing us, okay. they start harassing us. three, four, five, six phone calls a day wanting to talk about settling. >> reporter: costa officials deny they offered a discount cruise as compensation. the annulius family were also offered 11,000 euros. >> they were forced to do that. and what has put the passengers at a really disadvantage is that costa has a very, very tight con trakt. they'll have limitations for what they'll take. >> that limit is $71,000 for death and injury, as spelled out in an international convention.
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but many experts believe costa could pay more than $71,000 in this instance. james walker, a maritime lawyer, says any passenger needs to analyze the terms and conditions listed on the tick etc. >> there's a number of surprises contained in the fine legal print of the legal mumbo jumbo. the cruise lines have had their lawyers limit the ability of injured passengers to pursue their remedies. >> reporter: such contracts made it difficult to bring a lawsuit in an american court where compensation would be much higher, even if the ship is american-owned. that hasn't stopped a flog of lawsuits. costa's ceo says lawsuits from crew members represent a tiny minority. >> 95% of the crew has accepted
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koch sags. but more important, 95% has indicated to come back to work for costa. >> costa estimates one-third of passengers are taking legal action. >> we believe we were fair. we did whatever was fair and whatever was possible and impossible to assist the families at the seas. >> the reports from d survivors do not inspire. the senator clashed with the ceo of the association. >> carnival actually paid no u.s. corporate taxes at all in 2011. do you have a comment on that? >> again, i -- >> do you think that's right? >> again, i can only say that -- >> you're here representing your industry. do you think that's right? if i'm right, do you think that's right that that happened?
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>> i think what is appropriate is that the cruise industry pays its taxes based on the current laws. >> i think the cruise ships are getting away with a lot. and they're not paying taxes and their ships are registered in other countries where they can, you know, get cheaper labor and pay no taxes, or virtually no taxes in this country. >> reporter: carnival is incorporated in panama. royal caribbean, in liberia. and princess cruises. from 2004 to 2011, carnival paid just 1.1% in federal, state and foreign taxes yet recorded $11.3 billion in profits. the cruise line's international association says no matter where a boat is registered, all lines have to follow the international rules of the sea.
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but he concedes there are tax advantages to registering outside the united states. >> are there some fees and taxation considerations that go into that? certainly. we pay a wide array of fees, duties and we pay all of the taxes that we were required to pay. >> of all commercial cruise ships, only one, nor wee january's pride of america. >> the costa cruise line flies an italian flag and pays italian taxes. a kworcorporate rate of 30%. the industry is piloting its boats right through legal loopholes. >> they don't reimburse coast guard. they don't pay taxes, which would help these federal agencies. they always say safety is their emphasis. i've never quite believed that. i think the bottom line is their
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emphasis. >> finances aside, the question looming after the concordia disaster, is the cruise line taking safety seriously. >> did it take the deaths of 32 people on board to prompt you to take action? the designated hitter's the best thing to happen to baseball! but it's not t same game! [ wife ] wow, he's really gonna get us a good deal. it's better! no it's not! the pitcher comes up and he's out! [ dealer ] he can bunt! whatever. but we're good with 0% apr for 60 months? oh, yeah, totally. thank you so much. that must've been brutal. [ male announcer ] the volkswagen autobahn for all event. at 0% apr for 60 months, no one needs to know how easy it was to get your new volkswagen. that's the power of german engineering. [ grunting ] [ female announcer ] no worries! with aussie's simple, new hair solutions... [ whip cracking ] [ female announcer ]'re sure to find the perfect one for you. [ grunts ] [ female announcer ] add some roo to your do! [ grunts ] this is new york state. we built the first railway,
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>> based on a report, we are
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expecting to receive the investigation probably over this summer. while it is necessary, i'm sure the committee will take a robust action. >> so, basically, this could become mandatory after november once you have the report? >> i can imagine that. >> reporter: some of the concordia's last passengers want a much faster and tougher approach. >> there needs to be a total overhauling of how this industry operates. they lobby hard, they're paying bucks, they're buying people off. >> the cruise lines international association based in america spent almost $10 million on lobbying between 2007 and 2011. that does not include campaign contributions by industry owners and operators. senator rockerffellr made a hol.
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>> an inkrcredible numb befr of lobbyists. >> the body defends its methodical approach. >> i suppose families of the victims which say why is the imo only now taking action after a tragedy? did it take the deaths of 32 people on board to prompt you to take action? >> we cannot avoid some casualties. this is actually the fact of life. an important thing is, we have to respond quickly. and they ensure our safety and rebuild confidence. >> reporter: meanwhile, the italian investigators will issue the report later this year. its conclusions will affect the many lawsuits against costa and its parent, florida-based carnival. of those on board that night, samona santini and her husband
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have gone back to work, still haunted by memories of january 13th. >> reporter: and some of your friends, the crew, did not make it off. >> yeah, yeah, the drummer of the band and the violinist. >> the violinist drowned after he tried to help children put on their life jackets. in an interview with italian television, schettino said he's sorry the accident ever happened, but he insisted others on the bridge also share the blame. >> translator: i think he's completely grief-stricken over the loss of human life. his life has been destroyed in every aspect. >> i keep asking the question why. >> reporter: while schettino awaits trial on manslaughter charges, costa ceo is retiring under the shadow of the concordia disaster. >> it is the most painful thing that happened in my life after the death of my mother.
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>> reporter: but costa is confident in its future. four months after the disaster, it's launched a new liner. >> reporter: after a brief lull in bookings, a new global marketing campaign is under way. >> from a booking standpoint, the reservations that we are receiving. >> they cannot remove everything that they have done, everything that they have affected. >> like perez and many other passengers and crew, the annulius family is suing for negligence. >> we won't get on another cruise. >> nothing is too good to give up the chance of losing your life. >> reporter: it will take more than a year to salvage the wreck of the costa concordia. for now, the giant liner lies silently here.


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