Survivors of the Costa Concordia shipwreck and relatives of the 32 people who died marked the first anniversary of the grounding Sunday with the unveiling of memorials to the victims, a tearful Mass in their honor, and a minute of silence.
People 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 the jetty on the island of Giglio, near where the Concordia still lays on its side.
One moving ceremony involved “a boatload of mourners — family members or people who drowned in the ship’s crash last year and those who survived it,” reporter Megan Williams told CBC News from Giglio on Sunday.
The group witnessed a hunk of the granite rock — which the ship hit last year and which caused the gash that led to the vessel capsizing — being “lowered into the water to the sound of horns” from nearby boats, Williams said.
“People left bouquets and flowers and messages to loved ones,” Williams said.
Others seemed to have also found comfort in coming to Giglio, where residents opened their homes and hearts to the survivors.
"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.
Minute of silence
Later Sunday, a minute of silence was being held at 9:45 p.m. local time, the exact moment when the Concordia slammed into the reef after Capt. Francesco Schettino took it off its pre-programmed course and brought it closer to Giglio as a favor to friends from the island.
Schettino is accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and leaving the ship before all passengers were evacuated.
He hasn't been charged but is living under court-ordered restrictions pending a decision on whether to indict him.
In September, a panel of experts laid most of the blame for the collision with the reef and the botched evacuation on Schettino. But that panel also noted that not all crew members understood Italian, not all had current safety and evacuation certifications, and not all passengers had had the chance to participate in evacuation drills.
“We were afraid the captain would become a scapegoat,” Benji Smith told CBC News on Sunday.
“We feel that he’s one man,” said Smith, who has written a book about what he and his wife went through in the shipwreck.
“He did act foolishly and chartered a poor course and put all our lives at risk But, ultimately he made a mistake and the real responsibility for the tragedy flows upward through the rest of the organization,” Smith said.
2 victims never found
The 32 people who died included 12 Germans, seven Italians, six French nationals, two Americans, two Peruvian crew members, one Hungarian, one Spaniard and an Indian. Indian waiter Russel Rebello was one of the two victims whose bodies were never recovered.
Elio Vincenzi, the husband of Maria Grazia Trecarichi of Italy, whose body also was never recovered, wept as he presented a ceramic statue of the Madonna to Giglio's mayor.
The Concordia remains on its side, grounded off Giglio's port. Officials now say it may take until September to prepare the ship to be rolled upright and towed from the rocks to a port to be dismantled -- an operation on a scale that has never before been attempted. The cost has swelled to €400 million, or about $525 million.
“The ship doesn’t look much different from last year except it’s quite a bit more rusty, other than that it’s in the same position,” Williams said.