Survivors of the Costa Concordia shipwreck and relatives of the 32 people who died marked the first anniversary of the grounding yesterday with the unveiling of memorials to the victims, a Mass in their honour and a minute of silence to recall the exact moment that the cruise ship rammed into a reef off Tuscany.
One of the most moving tributes came first, with the daybreak return to the sea of part of the massive rock that tore a 230-foot gash into the hull of the ocean liner, when the captain took it off course in a stunt. The boulder remained embedded in the mangled steel as the 112,000-ton vessel capsized off Giglio island along with its 4,200 passengers and crew.
As fog horns and sirens wailed, a crane on a tug lowered the boulder back onto the reef off Giglio where it belonged, returning it to the seabed affixed with a memorial plaque. Relatives of the dead threw flowers into the sea and embraced as they watched the ceremony from a special ferry that bobbed in the waves under a grey sky.
They wept during the Mass and tearfully ran their fingers over the names of the 32 dead that were engraved on a bronze plaque unveiled at the end of Giglio's jetty, near where the Concordia still lays on its side. But others seemed to have also found comfort in coming to Giglio, where residents opened their homes and hearts to the survivors that frigid night.
"Having the possibility to see everything, we can accept it a bit more, but there is still a long way to overcome this loss, especially for my mother who suffered a lot for her son," said Madeleine Costilla Mendoza, whose brother Tomas Alberto Costilla Mendoza of Peru was a steward on the ship.
Officials say it could take until September to prepare the ship to be salvaged.