hope lingers on for the only one Indian missing

MUMBAI: Family of Rebello Russell Terrance, the only Indian still missing from the crew of Italian liner Costa Concordia that capsized off an island off Tuscan coast, pray for good news as they track news updates and contact officials for information regarding the 33 year old.

Russell was serving as a waiter at the Italian liner Costa Concordia that capsized after it struck a reef on Friday night near the port of Isola del Giglio, an island off the Tuscan coast. The Costa Concordia was carrying more than 4,200 people when it ran aground shortly after starting a seven-day Mediterranean cruise on its way to Marseille in France and Barcelona in Spain. Eleven people have been confirmed dead and 24 are still missing, out of the 202 Indians onboard Russell is the only missing person.

Calm at the Rebello residence at Naigaon, 75 kms from here, is broken only by television announcements of the ship wreck or interviews to press reporters. Four days after the incident Russell Rebello’s parents are hopeful of seeing him soon, “He might be unconscious or in a hospital. They might have counted him under some other county’s list, but he must be ok,” Russell’s mother Gladys said. She is interrupted by Frank who raises his frail voice confidently, “He is alright! He is a fighter, trained to swim and fire fight. I am telling you that my son is fine.”

Gladys and Frank Rebello came to know about the accident on Saturday morning from a BBC news telecast but it was late in the evening that the list of survivors was released.  Many young men of the same area are employee in the same profession hence the neighborhood gathered to share information.  Neighbors arranged for a set top box for the family so they can follow the news related to the mishap on television channels. It was after two days that the family realized that Russell is the only Indian missing from the 202 others aboard the ship. For the last six years, Russell was working as a steward on the liner and had resumed duty after a vacation in October 2011. “He last spoke to us on January 6, wishing us for Christmas and New Year, as he could not call us then. He was to return in June … I am just praying that he is alright and comes home to us,” Gladys said.

Russell’s elder brother Kevin Rebello, who is in Italy reached Giglio Island as soon as he heard of the news. “Kevin has approached all possible agencies for assistance and has been searching for Russell in hospitals and hotels… we are waiting for some positive news.” Vikram Pinto, Russell’s brother in law said.

 Upset about lack of information and the misleading leads by the Mumbai-based recruitment company M/s Air Borne Recruiting Pvt Ltd, which hired the Indian crewmembers the family ontinues to make calls to every source for information. “The recruiting company first told us that Russell was safe and had been admitted to a hospital. Later, they said that he was in a hotel, when we told this to Kevin he rushed to the Tuscan Coast but could not find him,” Vikram Pinto said.

 “We have not stopped praying since the time the news broke, Now we are hoping to get some positive news from Kevin. But he called on Monday afternoon to say that Russell was nowhere to be found and that the local officials were not cooperating,” Gladys said. “None of the government officials, from Delhi or the Indian embassy in Italy, have contacted us till now. Even the recruiting company is tightlipped about the matter,” Gladys said.

Meanwhile 25 years old Alister Nunes, one of the crewmembers escaped miraculously from the wreck. Alister’s father Hillary Nunes spoke to his son on Saturday afternoon. “We we saw on TV that a ship had sunk in Italy and we couldn’t believe it that Alister was on that ship. But Alister contacted us after being rescued, we are blessed that he is alright,” he added. (Eom)

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