Jan 21, 2012 at 10:55am IST

Joyful return for nine shipwreck survivors

HYDERABAD: A jubilant first batch of survivors from the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia, which hit a rock and sank off the Tuscan coast in Italy, reached back to the city Thursday night around 9.30 p.m. The survivors Jonathan Paturi, Ramesh Kumar, Srikanth Yadav, Srinivas Reddy, Ravikumar Dharnes, Suresh Chari and Shashidharan returned along with the first batch of 72 Indians five days after the mishap took place near Giglio island.
Two more survivors, Siva Prasad and Charan Kumar Neela are expected to reach Hyderabad in a couple of days.
Elated crowds and anxious parents crowded the survivors as soon as they landed at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport at Shamshabad and garlanded the survivors.
A joyful Paturi, who had given a first hand account of the incident in these columns after the tragedy, said, “We were well trained for any mishap.
All I had in my mind during the accident was to rescue as many people as possible.
I knew the escape routes and procedures also.” Paturi had been working with the ship for a couple of years.
He also said that the news about the captain abandoning the ship was untrue.
“The captain was having dinner with his girlfriend at the time of accident,” he said.
Solomon Paturi, Jonathan’s father was extremely happy to receive his son.
He maintained that he had no objections if Jonathan wanted to work in a ship again.
“We will go by his wish,” he said.
There were 4200 people aboard the cruise liner.
Of these 21 people are still missing while 11 are confirmed dead.
Three more bodies of foreign nationals were found Thursday.