Everyone who survived the grounding of the Costa Concordia had a story to tell about their escape. Here are some of them.
A BABY GIVEN AWAY
Georgia Ananias, 61, choked up as she recalled the moment when an Argentine couple living in Mallorca, Spain, handed her their 3-year-old daughter, unable to keep their balance as the ship listed to the side. They had met while in a lifeboat that they had to abandon while still attached to the deck because it wouldn't winch down the upended side of the ship.
"He said, 'Take my baby,'" Ananias said, eyes tearing as she sat under a wool blanket in a holding center in Porto Santo Stefano. "I grabbed the baby. But then I was being pushed down. I didn't want the baby to fall down the stairs. I gave the baby back. I couldn't hold her." "I thought that was the end and I thought they should be with their baby," she said, explaining why she gave the baby back.
Whispered her daughter Valerie: "I wonder where they are."
THE DISAPPEARING MAGICIAN:
"We were watching the show, a magic show, and then the magician disappeared," said Laurie Willits of Wingham Ontario, who was traveling with husband Alan on the cruise to celebrate their 30th anniversary. With the main act abandoning the stage, Alan Willits said he had to strain not to fall out of his chair as the ship began to list.
Mike van Dijk, of Pretoria, South Africa, was on the other side of the theater and noticed some garbage cans started falling over.
"I thought it was part of the trick, because all of a sudden the curtains went to the side," he said. He said he and his wife were sitting near the stage manager running the lighting control panel. "And I saw him absolutely confused and worried, and then I knew we had to leave."
"Everything I have is in that ship," said Melissa Goduti of Wallingford, Connecticut, listing her cell phone, passport and camera memory cards _ as well as the Rosary beads she and her mother purchased at the Vatican before boarding the Concordia in the Italian port of Civitavecchia on Friday.
"I will never go on a boat again," she said as she shivered under a blanket and waited to board a bus in Porto Santo Stefano. "We didn't even get to see Italy, nor do we know how we're going to get home."
"The lifeboats were all full. We wanted to give him to someone because we couldn't get on," passenger Anna Veroni said of 15-month-old Filippo. "No one would take him. They told us to go to the next boat, the next boat." Finally they found a lifeboat that would take her whole family: son, husband and aunt. "It was 'Titanic.' Identical," she said.