Concordia captain ignored order to oversee rescue
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The captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, which ran aground off the coast of Italy on Friday killing at least six people with 29 still missing, did not obey an order to coordinate the evacuation, transcripts released Monday revealed.
AFP - The captain of a luxury liner that crashed off Tuscany did not respond to an order to return on board to oversee rescue operations, according to a taped telephone conversation released Monday.
Italy's ANSA news agency said Francesco Schettino, the captain of the 17-deck Costa Concordia, was evasive when ordered by a port official to supervise the rescue hours after the ship keeled over Friday and several hundreds were still trapped.
"Now you go to the bow, you climb up the emergency ladder and coordinate the evacuation," the official tells him, according to the transcript of the conversation recorded on one of the ship's "black boxes."
"You must tell us how many people, children, women and passengers are there and the exact number of each category," he said.
"What are you doing? Are you abandoning the rescue? Captain, this is an order, I am the one in charge now. You have declared abandoning ship," he said, adding: "There are already bodies."
"How many?" Schettino says, prompting the cutting reply: "That is for you to tell me, what are you doing? Do you want to go home?"
A Toulon-based lawyer for the survivors of the Costa Concordia cruise liner accident has announced the filing of a complaint against the ship’s Italian owner, Costa Cruises, accusing the company of failing to assist those in danger and endangering the lives of others, among other charges.
Patrice and Tatiana Vecchi, who reside in Cavalaire-sur-Mer, have filed the class-action suit, which is expected to attract around a hundred co-plaintiffs, Frederic Casanova said.
The complaint focuses on the ship authorities’ “failure to assist a person in danger, endangering the lives of others, manslaughter and breaches of safety", Casanova told AFP.
Earlier, Schettino had compromised himself by saying in another telephone call that we "cannot get on board because the rear of the ship is keeling over."
ANSA also said there was a kind of "mutiny" among the crew which decided on an evacuation before being given formal orders by the captain.
Schettino was arrested on Saturday along with first officer Ciro Ambrosio.
The head of the company which owns the vessel said it had hit a rock as a result of an "inexplicable" error by Schettino off the picturesque island of Giglio.
"He carried out a manoeuvre which had not been approved by us and we disassociate ourselves from such behaviour," said Pier Luigi Foschi, the boss of Costa Crociere, Europe's largest cruise operator.
Italian prosecutors accuse the two officers of multiple homicide and abandoning ship before all the passengers were rescued.
Investigators were also analysing the "black box" recovered by rescuers for exact details of the ship's movements.
The Costa Concordia was carrying more than 4,200 people when it ran aground shortly after starting a seven-day Mediterranean cruise on its way to Marseille in France and Barcelona in Spain, just as many passengers were having dinner.
Carnival Corp, the parent company of Costa Crociere, put the initial cost of the disaster at $85-95 million (67-75 million euros).
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