What happens to my valuables on a shipwreck?

Note: The “Problem Solved” column normally deals with non-travel issues that are fixable, but a recent reader question prompted me to make an exception. Fran Perry is curious about what happened to the valuables belonging to the Costa Concordia’s victims. I dredge up an answer.
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Should Costa reverse course on this fare error?

Oh no, not again.
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How safe is a cruise? Even after new law, it’s hard to say

The Costa Concordia / Photo courtesy EU.
As Carnival Corp. announced plans to salvage the Costa Concordia last week, the world’s attention focused again on cruise safety — or rather, lack of it.

The Concordia struck a reef off the coast of Italy in January and partially sank, claiming the lives of 32 passengers. Carnival will refloat the hull in a $300 million salvage operation said to be the largest in history.
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Costa Concordia sinking leaves other cruise ship passengers alarmed — and out of luck

The tragic sinking of the Costa Concordia cruise ship last week is leaving a line of worried passengers in its wake. Betty Westbrook is among them. The retiree from Allen, Tex., called me hours after the ship sank off the Italian coast, hoping that I could help her. “What are my chances for a refund?” she asked.

Westbrook believes that had she been aboard the cruise liner, she might have been a casualty. “I’m 82, and I couldn’t have made it off the ship without help,” she says. Reading about the Concordia crew’s alleged unpreparedness for disaster has made her nervous about her February cruise to the Bahamas on the Carnival Magic.
Read more “Costa Concordia sinking leaves other cruise ship passengers alarmed — and out of luck”