SOUTH Australian woman Elyse Faehrmann fought for survival aboard the stricken cruise ship Costa Concordia.

Divers search stricken cruise ship

Divers search for bodies underwater around the Costa Concordia, the cruise ship that sank off the Italian coast on January 13. Rough cut (n…

29 January 2012Reuters

Brother of missing passenger hopes for a miracle

Divers hurled deck chairs aside as they did a room by room search for missing passengers from the Costa Concordia. Deborah Gembara reports.

29 January 2012Reuters

Ms Faehrmann, 23, and a friend, were sitting down for dinner on their last night of a six night cruise on the luxury ship when it struck rocks off the island of Giglio on Friday, January 13, Adelaide Now reports.


“We were on deck three at the back of the boat in a restaurant,” Ms Faehrmann said yesterday, as she shared her story publicly for the first time since returning from the doomed voyage.

“There was a sudden stop and it felt like (the captain) had put the ship in reverse.

“A few plates smashed and then you could sense the ship tipping … tables rattled and then I saw a rack of plates fall towards a waiter.

“I remember turning to (my friend) and saying, we have to get out of here.

“It was chaos. Our priority was to get to our room and get life jackets and then get on to the deck.” Ms Faehrmann said she saw none of the ship’s crew or officials throughout the terrifying minutes that followed but the pair were helped by staff from the shops and restaurants on the ship.

The women ignored orders to return to their cabin – an order now considered to have cost some passengers their lives. Yesterday, retrieval crews recovered the body of a 17th victim.

“The ship had started to tip and they didn’t deploy the lifeboats for ages,” Ms Faehrmann said. “As soon as they started loading people into the lifeboats, we were just pushed back.

“You could hear screams and crashes and bangs … they were piling into the lifeboats so quickly and overloading them (so) the ropes were snapping.”

The women missed out on being rescued in the first wave of life rafts and were forced to cling to rails as the ship tipped further. They were ushered to a lower deck as the lifeboats returned

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“The cabin staff made a human chain to help us to the lifeboats,” she said.

“When we got to them, the railing on Deck 3 was underwater.”

However Ms Faehrmann said the ordeal was not over.

“The boat got hooked up on the ship as the ship was sinking and I thought that was going to be the end for us,” she said.

Her parents, Roger and Julie Faehrmann, had an anxious wait for news their daughter was safe after seeing the news and contacting the Australian Embassy.

“It was just surreal,” Mr Faehrmann said.

“I was watching the cricket and it broke to the news … It was a frantic two hours, then we got the call to say that she was safe and warm.”

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