Trapped Alive Aboard the Andrea Doria

Jim Kalafus

Dec 3, 2000
One story which has appeared in several books, tangentally, is the story of the three women: Christina Corvino, of Mt Vernon New York; her sister in law, Margaret Carola, and Amelia Iazetta of Brooklyn, in cabin A-230. The story, until now, has never had a diagram.

Immediately after the collision, the Andrea Doria had rolled to starboard, and when the list stabilised the new waterline was about even with A Deck.

Crew members found Benvenuto Iazetta, in water up to his knees according to accounts, trying to pry the door to cbin A-230, at the edge of the impact area, behind which he claimed his wife and the other women were trapped. Iazetta was sent, unwillingly, to the boat deck, after being assured that a rescue party would be dispatched to open the door.

Like much else, that morning, the rescue effort seemed rather sluggish and very non-specific. En route to A-230, the men were called to by Mrs Wells, in A-236, whose daughter had been trapped when the bunks in the cabin collapsed and pinned her. While the men struggled to pry the child out of the pile, the ship rolled a bit and the bunk slid off. Mrs. Wells, her injured daughter, and the rescue party fled, the last people known to have escaped from the lower deck collision area.

One wonders if, as was later claimed, the rescue party truly became confused and assumed that Mrs. Wells and her daughter WERE the trapped party they were meant to save. "Three women in a cabin with a jammed door" and "A mother in the hallway whose daughter is pinned in a debris pile" are so infinitely different that one is left with two choices:

A) No specifics were given, other than "trapped passengers on A Deck," despite the fact that the crew who relayed the information had been at the door to A-230 and knew who was trapped there.

B) Specifics WERE given, but the men quite properly stopped to free the Wells child, and then abandoned the mission when the ship rolled and the pile of bunks moved off of the little girl.

Writers have commented that no one ever knew if the women were still alive behind the door, leaving the possibility that they might have been crushed to death on impact or shortly thereafter thrown into the sea as the Stockholm's bow retreated. But, check out the deckplan:


A-230 aligns with the furthest reaches of the damage area on the Upper Deck, where the hole was the broadest. The aft wall of their cabin aligns with the midpont of U-56, a cabin known to have survived as a "shelf" with half of the floor surviving on the edge of the hole. On Foyer Deck, one deck lower, the damage centered on F-178/80 and the crew cabins beside it. On A deck, the taper of the Stockholm's bow was even greater. A-230 faced AWAY from the impact zone. So, if the door survived, so too did the cabin behind it.

Use the staircase as something to establish scale on each deck.

Place your finger in the center of U-52, the centerline for Upper Deck damage. Then, keeping it there, scroll the deckplan downward. The presumed centerline for damage on A Deck is A-218. Given the taper of the Stockholm's bow, a small portion of A-228, in which Michael and Maria Russo and their two daughters were killed, would have survived.

Okay, one wonders then, exactly what DID happen to the occupants. The impact was severe enough to cause the bunks in A-236 to shear off and collapse. One assumes that there were probably similar cave-ins in the other rooms in this block. And, probably, the weight of a bunk with an adult in it crashing down upon the lower berth would have caused injuries to two of the women. Did Mr. Iazetta HEAR anything behind the door? Was he in contact with any of the occupants of the room as he tried to pry the door? Strange to say, all accounts are silent on this point.

Defenders of the crew are silent on this point, as well. Despite the relative stability of the ship, it seems that NO effort was made to search cabins and force doors in the impact zone. Mrs. Wells and daughter were discovered accidentally. The daughter of victim from the A-Deck cabins also recently stated, without elaboration, that her mother was ALSO trapped behind a jammed door and died when the ship rolled over well after sunrise.
Jan 16, 1998
Yes, the diagram is most helpful, nice of you to post it . . . though if the damaged area could've been shaded (or colored in) that would've been nice also . . . and the occupants of the cabins near by, those who survived and those who perished, could've been listed, one could possibly get a better grip on what happened to that section . . . it's grim to think of what happened, they may have been killed, or possibly unconscious . . . the crewmen thought there was a mistake in the cabin number . . . one way or the other, I don't think it can ever be known with finality . . .

Jim Kalafus

Dec 3, 2000

This view shows Christina Covino (left) and Amalia Iazetta (center), both of whom died in A-230. The man on the right is Benvenuto Iazetta. This photo was taken in the tourist class dining room on the first full day at sea, and mailed to relatives in New York from Gibraltar.

Benvenuto Iazetta, 72, was traveling in a separate cabin, which he shared with Luigi Carola. Luigi's wife, "Grandma Rosa" had terminal cancer and was in the liner's hospital. His 38 year old daughter, Margaret, was in A-230 with the two women in the photograph.

A-230 was just beyond the damage area. It was on a transverse passageway. As the ship heeled, water flowed into the passage knee deep, and stopped rising.

The two old men stood in water up to their knees, and....

IAZETTA: I had just left them, and went in to my adjoining cabin for the night. I had just stepped into the bathroom (a separate, public bathroom- jk) to wash, when there was a jolt and everything was thrown around.

I could hear them yelling in their cabin. I yelled that the door was jammed but I was trying to force it open. Three crew members came along and dragged me away from the door and shoved me up a flight of stairs to the deck. They never tried to help them. They said that they were going to go back and get the women, but they followed right up after me.

CAROLA: One of the crew shouted at me, in Italian, 'We have to think about ourselves' and fled.

The two men were assured that a search party would be dispatched. And one was. But, it got sidetracked to cabin A-236, where a pre-school girl named Rosemary Wells had been trapped by a collapsing bunk. The men spent some time freeing Miss Wells, and then either forgot about A-230, or were spooked by the dim emergency lighting, the amount of time they had been trapped in the flooding part of the ship, and the knee deep water only a few feet from where they stood. They never went down the side passage.

A-Deck remained the new waterline until well after dawn that morning. And, the women were likely still alive as late as 9:30.

Carmela OHare

Aug 16, 2018
I am the granddaughter of Amelia Iazzetta and I was a very young child (four years old) when this occurred. I remember my dad going to the dock where the life boat and rescue ship brought the survivors of the Andrea Doria. My grandfather, Benvenuto Iazzetto, was one of the last to leave the Andrea Doria waiting in hope that his wife would join him since he was promised someone would help her. I also remember family members calling around to hospitals in hope that she might have been rescued after my grandfather left the ship. But both Amelia and her sister Cristina were lost at sea as stated above. I did not realize that the they could have been rescued for hours after that. I cannot imagine what their last hours were like.


Jun 9, 2016
Were the passengers alive at the time the ship rolled is a question to which we will never have answers. I think the regular jolts and noises emanating from the ship as water filled below decks would have scared anyone. Remember, the vast majority of these cabins wereliterally ground-up as the "Stockholm" first impaled. Then as the "Doria" continued to surge forward, "Stockholm" pivoted something like 70 degrees, using the aft cabins as a fulcrum and cleaning out everything in front of the initial impact zone. The destroyed area was much larger inside the "Andrea Doria" than the Swedish ship's bow profile indicates. everything in the depicted impact zone below "A"deck immediately filled with ocean water. Had anyone survived the immediate penetration, which is doubtful, they were immediately drowned. When Peter Gimbel dove on the wreck in the 1980's, his team discovered the "Stockholm" have even ridden up over the "Doria's" keel. Those people in side the immediate impact zone weren't just crushed, they were shredded. The flooding of "A" deck continued at a gradual but steady pace. Lifeboats even drifted alongside the uppermost region of the hole while paneling, mattresses, chairs, and other furnishings bobbed up and out into the ocean. One rescue boat reported seeing the naked body of a dead woman drift out of the hole and alongside the ship. It was not recovered. If anyone was trapped alive, their injuries would have put them in shock, and likely they died from hypothermia in the sea water as much as their sustained impact injuries. When the "Andrea Doria" plowed into the seabed, the hole plowed up mud and sand, and filled those lower rooms.

Similar threads

Similar threads