Diagramming the Costa Concordia Disaster

Experiments in multimedia journalism.
Jan. 20 2012 3:09 PM

Diagramming the Costa Concordia Disaster

An annotated look at the cruise ship fiasco.

A photograph taken early on January 14, 2012 of the Costa Concordia after the cruise ship with more than 4,000 people on board ran aground and keeled over off the Isola del Giglio, Italy.
The Costa Concordia cruise ship, aground off the Isola del Giglio, Italy on Jan. 14

AFP/Getty Images

How on earth does a $450 million cruise ship end up on its side, only a third of a mile off a picturesque Italian island? What is going on in the crazy photographs making the rounds? The annotated images below should help paint a more complete picture of how the Costa Concordia fiasco went down. Hover over the highlighted sections for a guide to what you see and facts about what happened off the shore of Giglio.  

Cruise ship Costa Concordia lies stricken off the shore of the island of Giglio Passengers on the level of this window might have had a chance of surviving, but others were stuck in submerged floors. A ladder down the side of the ship, which extends about 102 feet (or 10 stories) when sitting upright. The captain claimed he slipped on deck and tumbled overboard to wind up in a lifeboat. A lifeboat for 35 people. Lifeboats were not lowered to the water until at least 45 minutes after the ship hit ground. In the chaotic evacuation, passengers reported it was a free-for-all attempting to find life jackets.

Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

Cruise ship Costa Concordia lies stricken off the shore of the island of Giglio. Italian divers prepare for an operation Thursday, continuing the search as an estimated 21 people were still missing.   A stairwell connecting the ship’s 11 decks. After finding that diving through stairs was too difficult, rescuers blasted a hole in the hull. The C stands for Costa Concordia, which is owned and operated by Costa Cruises. This slide once led into a pool on the Concordia’s roof. The ship had the largest spa center ever built on a cruise ship.

Photo by Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images

Cruise ship Costa Concordia lies stricken off the shore of the island of Giglio The tiny Italian island of Giglio  has a population of about 1,500 people. Tour guides often tout that it was the site of an Etruscan shipwreck in 600 B.C. Captain Schettino told investigators he took the ship to within 0.28 nautical miles (about one-third of a mile) of the island of Giglio to perform a ''salute'' to a former Costa Cruises captain.  The boat carried about 4,300 passengers and crew members. As fishing and tourism are the major industries in Giglio, boats are constantly coming and going.

Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

Cruise ship Costa Concordia lies stricken off the shore of the island of Giglio.  Rescuers set up a floating barrier on Thursday in hopes of preventing oil spillage from the cruise ship. Rescue teams were focused on finding the 21 people still missing on Thursday, as well as figuring out how to extract 2,300 tons of fuel from the ship. Divers continued scouring the 1,500 cabins for signs of life on Thursday.  The ship ran aground within a 30,000-square-mile zone designated as a sanctuary for marine mammals.  The Concordia would have been fine if it had stayed at this distance from the island.

Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

Cruise ship Costa Concordia lies stricken off the shore of the island of Giglio In one case, a woman reported that her husband saved her by giving her the last life jacket within reach before they both jumped into the water. He did not survive. A disaster team balances on the ledge of the tipped cruise ship on Thursday. The company has not yet decided whether to salvage the $450 million ship. According to Accuweather, the  water temperature was in the mid- to upper-50s Fahrenheit when the cruise ship tipped. The water is about 66 feet deep (imagine a 6-story building) around the boat. Here you can see three different decks on the cruise ship.

Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

Heather Murphy is a former Slate photo editor and the creator of Behold, the Photo Blog. Follow her on Twitter.

Vivian Selbo is Slate's Design Director.


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