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Montevideo, September 21st 2018 - 00:29 UTC

Costa Concordia captain claims he was ordered to make the fatal ‘salute’ display

Monday, January 23rd 2012 - 15:23 UTC
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Captain Schettino is charged with multiple manslaughter Captain Schettino is charged with multiple manslaughter

The operators of the Costa Concordia faced questions over their share of the blame for the shipwreck, as divers recovered another body from the stricken liner, bringing the known death toll to 13.

Captain Francesco Schettino is accused of steering the 290 metre-long cruise ship too close to shore while performing a manoeuvre known as a “salute” in which liners draw up very close to land to make a display.

Schettino, who is charged with multiple manslaughter and with abandoning ship before the evacuation of its 4,200 passengers and crew was complete, has told prosecutors he had been instructed to perform the manoeuvre by operator Costa Cruises.

Prosecutors say he steered the ship within 150 metres of the Tuscan island of Giglio, where it struck a rock that tore a large gash in its hull, causing it to keel over.

It is now lying on its side on an undersea ledge, half-submerged and in danger of sliding into deeper waters.

As the search continued into a ninth day, divers found the body of a woman on a submerged deck near the bow of the vessel, bringing the total number of known dead to 13, only eight of whom have been identified.

Costa Cruises have said they were not aware of any unsafe approaches so close to the shore and have suspended Schettino, saying he was responsible for the disaster.

According to transcripts of his hearing with investigators, Schettino has disputed that claim, saying Costa had insisted on the manoeuvre to please passengers and attract publicity.

“It was planned, we should have done it a week earlier but it was not possible because of bad weather,” Schettino said. “They insisted. They said: 'We do tourist navigation, we have to be seen, get publicity and greet the island'.”

Italian newspapers have also published photographs of the Costa Concordia apparently performing the “salute” close to other ports including Syracuse in Sicily and the island of Procida, which is near Naples and Schettino's hometown of Meta di Sorrento.

Schettino also said the black box on board had been broken for two weeks and he had asked for it to be repaired, in vain.

In the hearing, Schettino insisted he had informed Costa's headquarters of the accident straight away, and his line of conduct had been approved by the company's marine operations director throughout a series of phone conversations.

He acknowledged, however, not raising the alarm with the coastguard promptly and delaying the evacuation order.

“You can't evacuate people on lifeboats and then, if the ship doesn't sink, say it was a joke. I don't want to create panic and have people die for nothing,” he said.

Costa, a unit of Carnival Corp, the world's largest cruise line operator, says Schettino lied to the company and his own crew about the scale of the emergency.
 

Categories: Politics, International.

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