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A year after Costa Concordia disaster, emotions resurface

Crews have been working 24 hours a day, building structures around the sunken Costa Concordia in an effort to remove it from off the coast of Italy's island of Giglio. A year later, those who were on board are still coming to terms with the accident that killed 32 people. NBC's Michelle Kosinski reports.

GIGLIO ISLAND, Italy -- Just before the one-year anniversary of the Costa Concordia disaster, survivors find that their emotions are right back at the surface -- as they've been asked by the world's media over the past week to relive and retell their horror stories from that night, and to give an update on how they're doing.


The similarities in their stories have been striking: several survivors told NBC News that the night of Jan. 13, 2012 seems like a video game in their minds now, one in which they were the characters, with a laser focus on finding a lifeboat with enough room for them. Running along the decks, with a mission: to stay calm, and survive.

A couple from Boston said they drew upon the movie "Titanic" as they waited at the water line to be rescued, after rappelling down the side of the hull on a rope that they had found and tied around themselves. With images from the film replaying in their heads, they knew that if they tried to swim to safety, they might suffer hypothermia. And if they waited too long inside the ship, the suction from the water pouring in might also mean their end.

Even a year later, some accounts result in tears. The desperation and fear in those terrible memories have just been too intense to shake. But more and more, survivors' stories end in satisfaction -- and in some cases, surprise -- at the strong lessons learned about their own personal mettle and endurance.


So, it was difficult for many to hear about a press release suddenly put out by one of the attorneys representing Concordia passengers, claiming that parent company Carnival Corporation was now blaming the passengers themselves, accusing them of negligence and alleging that their injuries were their own fault.

The release quoted from a response Carnival had filed back in November in response to a lawsuit by two uninjured passengers. The release stated that Carnival claimed that the passengers "acted negligently or carelessly and were the sole or contributory cause of the alleged injuries or damages."

Carnival, however, told NBC News their words were taken out of context.

"The language in question, which is from a standard and customary legal filing in response to a complaint filed by two passengers, has been taken completely out of context. The defendants in the case have not accused the plaintiffs of negligence. It is truly shameful that anyone would purposely misrepresent what is stated in the filing, particularly as we near the one-year anniversary of the tragedy," a Carnival representative said.

It is doubtful that the emotion, the anger and the accusations surrounding this tragedy will dissipate anytime soon.

Hundreds of passengers have filed lawsuits against the cruise line; the Costa Concordia captain is accused of crimes including manslaughter and abandoning the ship; and two people who were on board that night are still missing.

Capt. Francesco Schettino has insisted that he was encouraged to do sail-pasts close to shore to delight tourists, a statement Costa Concordia has repeatedly deniedt. Schettino, meanwhile, has filed suit to get his job back.

How long will that sad, fading wreck rest in the port of the tiny Isola del Giglio? Probably until September -- at least. The huge removal project will cost $400 million.

A memorial service for the victims will mark the anniversary on Sunday. Crews will take the gigantic boulder that the Concordia struck and return it to sea.

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The Costa Concordia, carrying more than 4,200 passengers, ran aground Jan. 13 off the coast of Italy killing 32 people - including two Americans.

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