Tuesday, 31 January 2012

C4 Programme on Costa Concordia

I watched a surpisingly good documentary on the sinking of the Costa Concordia on Channel 4 this evening. While I have some of the usual minor grumbles about broadcasting interviews of survivors using the term 'panic' in their discourse, and then showing real footage that appears to show the exact opposite, on the whole it provides rather detailed accounts of what actually happened, instead of retreating into uncritical acceptance of dodgy old mass panic myths. They also interview Ed Galea from Greenwich University, a recognised expert in the field of evacuation behaviour, who makes some very valid points. The one that stuck out most for me, was his point that in emergencies, providing accurate information to passengers is vital, so they can act appropriately to escape danger. The idea that one should either lie or withold information for fear of mass panic if people find out the truth about the threat is not only unfounded, but potentially very dangerous, as it may delay people evacuating until it's too late. Footage of the crew trying to maintain the story that the ship had merely sufferred an electrical fault seems either irresponsible or negligent if this was done as a deliberate tactic to stop passengers 'panicking', and risks people not trusting information in future emergencies. Infra-red footage also clearly shows passengers queueing on the hull of the grounded ship to get on life-boats, thus further undermining the notion that there was any 'mass panic'


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