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The Week That Was: Tragedy and Shipwreck

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The world turned its attention to Italy once again this week, but for a change it wasn't the country's precarious finances or shady politics making headlines.

On 13 January, as its passengers enjoyed dinner and drinks, the cruise ship Costa Concordia made its way past the Tuscan coast, sailing too close to a reef off the island of Giglio as it did so, scraping an ultimately disastrous gash in its side.

At the time of writing, 12 people are confirmed dead and 20 still unaccounted for , including five-year-old Italian girl Dayana Arlotti who is missing with her father, William Arlotti.

And all of us, thanks to the widely quoted transcripts of that call between the ship's fleeing captain and the furious coastguard, Captain De Falco, feel somehow personally affected by what happened.

The unaccountable behaviour of Captain Francesco Schettino, currently under house arrest and facing a jail sentence of up to 15 years for manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning ship before his passengers, has done nothing to improve the stereotypical reputation of his countrymen, as Italian journalist Rosaria Sgueglia, who lives and works in the UK, examines in her heartfelt blog about the disaster.

Amongst the tragedy and the horror, there were some stories of genuine heroism, too, including purser Manrico Giampietroni, who survived for two days after falling through a floor and breaking his leg, while rescuing passengers. His wife, who he had reassured with a call from his mobile phone before its battery died, that he would get on the last lifeboat with the captain, once all passengers were accounted for, told an Italian newspaper, "He never surrenders, he always solves everything."

However, with an environmental disaster only a bad storm away to add to the human tragedy, this is a story where it's hard to find a silver lining.

As Italy started counting the cost of the rescue mission, back in Britain, Cameron's cabinet members were busy working out how to spend more money the country doesn't have. Amongst Michael Gove's genius ideas this week? A yacht to commemorate the Queen's diamond jubilee (the irony of the British talking about purchasing a huge boat when one was sinking a few hundred miles away was not lost on numerous newspapers who ran the two stories alongside each other). Oh, and a personally signed Bible for every school in the UK. While Twitter unleashed its fury at the idea, Ben Jennings, HuffPost's blogging cartoonist, had his own unique take on the scheme.

To be fair to Gove, he actually announced his Bible idea back in November, it's just taken a good few months for the various arguments surrounding the payment, shipping, not to mention ethics of the move, to truly blow up. Graham Brown-Martin has a good idea to solve all the issues: point school kids to the digitised version on the internet

Alternatively, if Gove could have persuaded Kate Winslet to bring home one of the gold-adorned desserts from the Golden Globes dinner alongside her statue, he'd have had enough money for all the Bibles he could possibly want, and most probably a pretty swish pen to sign them with, too.

Around the Web

Costa Concordia - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Costa Concordia captain: symbol of the era? - CSMonitor.com

Costa Concordia - Cruise Ship Sinks in Italy

Costa Cruise Ships, Costa Concordia Cruise, Cruise Vacation

Costa Concordia Captain's Excuse: 'I Tripped'

Costa Concordia: Storms threaten to shift marooned cruise liner and release ...

Another body found on Costa Concordia

Costa Concordia: Harbour master's log shows how the disaster unfolded

Costa Concordia Disaster: What Will Happen To The Wreck?

Costa Concordia: Unanswered Questions Remain