111 more Filipino crew of Italian cruise ship reach Manila
MANILA THE third batch of Filipino crew members of a stricken Italian cruise ship arrived in Manila on Saturday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.
The rescue workers searching the wreck of Costa Concordia off Italy’s Giglio Island clutched onto glimmers of hope that they may still find survivors a week after the tragedy which left 32 people feared dead.
The 111 Filipino crew of the giant 17-deck luxury liner arrived in four separate flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Saturday, the DFA said.
“Out of the 296 Filipino crew members of the MV Costa Concordia, 182 have safely gone back to the Philippines, while the remaining three Filipinos are schedule to leave Italy on January 21,” the DFA said in a statement.
The first batch of 108 crewmembers came home on Thursday. A Thanksgiving Mass organised by Filipino priests in Rome was earlier heard for the seafarers before they boarded their flights.
Philippine Ambassador to Rome Virgilio A Reyes Jr “commended the Filipino crew members for their courage, perseverance and professionalism.” At the same time, he thanked the members of the Filipino community who helped the embassy, and who directly assisted the Filipino seafarers by providing basic necessities.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario commended the Filipino crewmembers for their “competence, professionalism and humanity, even under extreme pressure.” “You are men and women of courage, heroism and dedication,” said Del Rosario of the 296 Filipino crewmembers of the luxury liner that ran aground off the Tuscan coast last week.
“We commend you for showing to the world the best traits of the Filipino seafarers.” Unlike the Italian captain who abandoned his crippled vessel, the Filipinos and other crewmembers stayed to help evacuate the panicked passengers.
“The Philippine Embassy in Rome received important feedback from other crew members as well as passengers of your brave acts manifesting competence, professionalism and humanity, even under extreme pressure,” said Del Rosario.
The liner crashed into rocks off Giglio on the night of January 13 with 4,229 passengers and crew from 60 countries on board and began to keel over just as passengers were settling down for supper at the start of their cruise.