By Bill Shields, WBZ-TVBy Bill Shields

CAMBRIDGE (CBS) – “When people ask us, how are you? I say we are alive, but we’re not OK yet,” says Benji Smith, a survivor of the Costa Concordia disaster.

Smith and his wife, Emily Lau, were passengers on the ship that ran aground off the coast of Italy. Amidst the chaos of that night, they found the only way off the ship was to climb down rope ladders.

“It was very scary,” says Smith. “The water was rough, and the life boat was banging against the hull. We waited on the rope for two hours, then finally had to jump.”

WBZ-TV’s Bill Shields reports

But getting off the ship was only half the ordeal. Once on land, they found little support from Italian authorities, the ship company, or even the American Embassy.

“We have no money, we don’t have warm clothes, we’re really scared, we need your help,” Emily Lau told the embassy. The embassy told the couple to borrow money and take a cab.

They made it to the embassy, and got temporary passports, but nothing more, not even documents stating what they had been through. “I told them, I’m not leaving this country until you give me a document, that says that this happened, and that it happened to us and that we have suffered a loss,” said Smith.

Emily says the only help they got was during the first night, when they stumbled into a small inn on the island of Giglio. “The innkeeper opened his pantry to us, and his wine. He gave us blankets, and when we tried to give him what little money we had, he refused, saying ‘It is my job’,” says Emily.

“And that is the first person that said it’s my job, when everybody else was saying it’s not my job, including the embassy and the (cruise) company.”

“And the captain,” added Benji.

Comments (7)
  1. Italo says:

    I don’t understand where the article says, “The embassy told the couple to borrow money and take a cab. They made it to the embassy, and got temporary passports, but nothing more, not even documents stating what they had been through.” The embassy would not help them get to its location, but then it gave them passports? Really bad diplomatic attitude and service. I am glad for them at least to not have perished and to be back home now.

  2. dan says:

    you know what this tells you….don’t take a cruise in italy

  3. johnny rocket says:

    what a bunch of babies. boo hoo you’re little ship capsized and no one offered to help you. what about those who actually died? what about their family members? “im not ok wah wah wahhhhh no one gave me food” …bunch of babies.

  4. kettleone says:

    Um, you are okay because your um…ALIVE!!! What about the missing people that aren’t okay because, well, they’re not alive!?! You survived and you should be thankful for that..

    1. Yougottabekiddingme says:

      well said kettleone. Sir, you took the place on the lifeboat in front of other women & children. You stand on land, alive and still complain when there are still deceased people on that ship. You were cold and wet… a bad night indeed. Then you demand paperwork to show you were aboard the ship (to sue them, most likely) As you lay in your warm bed think of everyone else who will never get that chance. COWARD!!

  5. Todd Gustafson McDaniel says:

    hey, I think its a bit rough to hate on survivors b/c thats exactly what they are. However, the folks on shore in Giglio were spectactular even if the “officials” were jerks or totally apathetic.

    regardless of being safe in a life boat, the mere thought of dying by drowning at 3am in the dark water of the Med has to be a horrifying thought.

    Im sure all these people have some mild PTSD.

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