Ship’s sinking: Captain refused to coordinate evacuation (Lead)January 18th, 2012 - 6:00 pm ICT by IANS
Rome, Jan 18 (IANS) A recorded conversation between the captain of a wrecked Italian cruise liner and a port official has revealed that he left the ship before all the passengers were evacuated.
In the phone conversation, which was recorded after the crash and released to the media, captain Francesco Schettino refused to go back to the Costa Concordia to coordinate rescue operations, as ordered by local port authority chief Gregorio De Falco, Xinhua reported.
“You have to go aboard, this is an order,” De Falco repeatedly told Schettino after finding that the captain is already on a lifeboat together with other officials.
“Go back to the ship, and tell me immediately how many children, women and people in need of protection there are on board,” De Falco said.
The captain, however, who has been arrested over charges of manslaughter and abandoning ship, is heard replying that there were rescuers on board, that he himself had no choice but getting into the lifeboat, and finally that it is dark and hard to see.
Rescuers found five more bodies Tuesday on the capsized Costa Concordia cruise ship, bringing the overall toll to 11, Italy’s ANSA news agency said.
All the five victims — four men and a woman — were wearing life jackets.
The grim discovery was made shortly after Italian Navy specialists used explosives to blow up holes in the ship’s hull to speed up the search, said RIA Novosti.
Italy’s Environment Minister Corrado Clini said in an interview with Canale 5 that there was still a chance to find survivors onboard the sunken ship, “but we must hurry up.”
The Costa Concordia, carrying 4,200 passengers, capsized after hitting rocks off the coast of Isola del Giglio Friday night.
Captain Francesco Schettino, 52, claimed that the ship hit a rock formation that had not appeared on nautical charts and had not been picked up by the ship’s navigation systems.
However, Italy’s Corriere della Sera daily said Monday the captain steered the Costa Concordia toward the island to please the vessel’s head waiter, who was born on Giglio.
Schettino is suspected of multiple manslaughter and abandoning a ship in distress and faces up to 15 years in prison, Prosecutor Francesco Verusio said.
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Tags: ansa news agency, canale 5, corrado clini, corriere della sera, costa concordia, cruise liner, cruise ship, environment minister, grim discovery, isola del giglio, italian navy, life jackets, lifeboat, nautical charts, phone conversation, rescue operations, ria novosti, rock formation, schettino, sunken ship