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British author Leah Fleming has given an exclusive interview in which she says every death from the Costa Concordia tragedy was "needless and tragic." Leah Fleming's new novel The Captain's Daughter, published in hardback yesterday, is set on the Titanic whose sinking one hundred years ago has been compared to what happened last Friday in the Med. Leah agrees there are parallels between the two disasters. Having read many Titanic survivors accounts during her research for her book Leah Fleming immediately noticed the similarities as the news unfolded; "The shock and disbelief, the flight or frozen responses,... not knowing how to get out and the struggle to find a lifeboat."
"I was horrified," Leah continued. "Because of the Titanic's loss many safety rules improved. The Costa Concordia had plenty of lifeboats, well stocked and easy to drop down, but even here many were caught by the ship's listing. Titanic sank in two hours mid ocean because of design faults and the wrong steering instructions and there were no rescue boats on hand until too late. At least the response from Giglio was rapid and saved lives. Titanic had a 2500 on board but only 700 survived. Here we have 4000 and probably only around 30 deaths but every one of those was needless and tragic."
It is the 100th anniversary of the Titanic sinking this year. Leah explains that she used to pass the captain's statue in Lichfield. Taking inspiration from witness accounts about his actions, in her fictional story the captain is responsible for saving the life of a child. "Many real people have walk on parts in my novel," Leah explained. "I hope I have explored the emotional depths of surviving such a tragedy." In fact Leah once worked as a crisis counsellor in the NHS and dealt with aftermath of major incidents like the bombing of Manchester. "I know these feelings can take years to resolve, if ever."
Leah's opinion of the actions of the captain of the stricken Costa Concordia is very different. "I think what will emerge is some careless arrogance, breaking of rules and then gross misconduct through panic by the captain who should be last off his ship. If there were no proper reheasals, confusion arises."
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