Italian Red Cross volunteers assist at shipwreck site

Published: 17 January 2012 16:33 CET
More that 250 staff on volunteers from the Italian Red Cross took part in relief operation after the Costa Concordia ran aground. Italian Red Cross.
More that 250 staff on volunteers from the Italian Red Cross took part in relief operation after the Costa Concordia ran aground. Italian Red Cross.

By Giovanni Zambello

250 Italian Red Cross staff and volunteers are taking part in the rescue and relief operation at the site of capsized liner Costa Concordia. The cruise ship hit rocks off Italy’s west coast on Friday night, killing at least 12 people and injuring 70.

The search for survivors was still underway yesterday, despite Italian officials declaring that chances of finding crew and passengers alive were reducing by the hour. 

Soon after the extent of the disaster became apparent, volunteers and vehicles from the organization were deployed to support passengers in Porto Santo Stefano, Porto Ercole and Orbetello in the province of Grosseto, Tuscany. Efforts are being coordinated by the Italian Red Cross office of civil protection in Grosseto. In addition to volunteers and staff, 30 ambulances and 20 vehicles have been used to transport people and materials at the site.

Volunteers have supplied more than 800 people with clothes, shoes, hygiene kits, medicines and other materials; moved people to nearby hospitals; and provided health care for 40 of the injured passengers at the medical post of the hospital of Orbetello.

Mauro Pasquarelli, a Red Cross volunteer from Orbetello, said the majority of casualties had limb injuries from falls. “There are fractures of the wrists, fingers and shoulders caused during the impact and capsizing of the ship. Several other people were in a state of shock or had hypothermia from the cold,” he said.

The Italian Red Cross is present in two reception centres in Grosseto, with about 80 volunteers and operators providing health services and psycho-social support, and in Savona, where the National Society has mobilized to assist 750 people coming from Porto Santo Stefano.

“Our volunteers and staff were alerted and deployed within the first hours after the accident,” said Roberto Antonini, emergency operation centre coordinator in the Italian Red Cross. “We are now assisting the last 30 passengers on the Costa Concordia and the next of kin of those who are still missing, while the majority of those in the reception centres in Grosseto have left already.

“In the meantime, we have deployed a field kitchen on the Isola del Giglio for the emergency organisations which are active on the island.”

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