The Big Story Blog

Stories of rescues, safety in wake of cruise ship wreck

Posted at 10:20 AM on January 17, 2012 by Paul Tosto

Lots of stories coming today from across the world on the Italian cruise ship wreck and its aftermath, including local stories on Minnesotans missing and rescued and the long term worries about the cruise ship industry.

Lakeville woman, sister had harrowing escape from ship. The Star Tribune this morning reports on two Lakeville sisters who were aboard the Costa Concordia but who got off the boat and safely to shore.

Church of missing Minn. couple praying for good news. MPR News reporter Annie Baxter writes that members of a Twin Cities Catholic church are praying for good news about their fellow parishioners, a White Bear Lake couple, who are the only remaining Americans yet to be located in the wreckage.

Have the cruise ships become too big to handle? The BBC posted an eye-opening story on how the cruise ships have become huge over the past decade, raising questions about whether safety procedures have kept pace with the increasing passenger load the big ships carry.

Some excerpts:

They have doubled in weight over the past decade, they sit higher in the water and are flatter underneath to enable them to enter more harbours. To the untrained eye they look top heavy, and with up to 6,000 people on board, they look difficult to evacuate quickly. But is that the case?

One maritime union, Nautilus International, thinks the regulations need looking at. It has been warning for some time that something like this might happen.

Look at this quote, which raises the spectre of the Titanic.

"The grounding of a cruise ship carrying more than 4,000 passengers and crew two weeks into the Titanic centenary year should serve as a wake-up call to the shipping industry and those who regulate it. Attention needs to be paid to existing evacuation systems and more innovative systems for abandonment."

What many people are keen to stress is that cruise ships are still among the safest ways to travel. Companies emphasise that training and regulations are rigorous and that this kind of accident is very rare. But no-one argues that there isn't room for improvement.


About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.