Concordia wreck yields heroine who gave up her lifejacket to a passenger

Erika Soria Molina, from Peru, is heralded as a heroine in her native country.

Erika Soria Molina

The body of 25-year-old Erika Soria Molina, a Peruvian waitress, was retrieved from the hulk of the wrecked Concordia cruise ship now settled near the shore of Italy’s Giglio island. The young woman was making her third voyage on the cruise ship when disaster struck on Friday, January 13. Members of the crew and passengers described her as a heroine for having helped passengers into lifeboats as the huge ship foundered. Witnesses say that Erika gave up her own life-jacket to an elderly passenger who was without one. Her body was found by divers on January 28. She was wearing her waitress uniform, but no life-jacket.

Erika’s parents and siblings, who had travelled from Peru to anxiously watch the rescue and salvage operations, were devastated by the news. Benedicta and Saturnino Soria,  identified her body at the Grosetto Hospital on the island. Erika’s parents,  Erika was one of two Peruvian nationals known to have perished in the wreck. According to Italian authorities, there remain 16 missing persons and two unidentified bodies.

Fellow crewmembers attest that the last they saw of Erika was at approximately 10:00 on the evening of the wreck. She was working there as a barmaid. As the ship listed and panicked passengers streamed to the rails and lifeboats, Erika was among the crewmembers who went into action. Witnesses say that when one of the lifeboats capsized, Erika took off her life-jacket and threw it into the dark and freezing water for an elderly person struggling alongside the wreck.

The captain of the wrecked cruiseship, which is owned by Carnival Cruise lines, is currently in an Italian jail awaiting trial for abandoning the vessel in a lifeboat, contrary to company policy and ancient maritime tradition, without sufficiently attending to his passenger as master of the ship.

Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

Filed under crime, travel, italy, disaster, ocean, peru, Europe


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