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Wednesday 17 September 2014

Costa fined for Concordia disaster

Published 10/04/2013 | 13:47

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The Costa Concordia after running aground (AP)

Italian cruise line Costa Crociere has been fined a million euros (£850,000) for the Concordia cruise ship sinking which killed 32 people.

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Costa had asked for a plea bargain deal to respond to the administrative sanctions, which under Italian law are for companies whose employees commit crimes. Judge Valeria Montesarchio of the Tuscan tribunal accepted the plea after a hearing.

Costa, a division of Miami-based Carniva, has sought to blame the disaster entirely on captain Francesco Schettino, who took the cruise ship off course and rammed it into a reef off the Tuscan island of Giglio on January 13, 2012.

Grosseto prosecutors are seeking indictments for Schettino and five other people on charges including manslaughter. A preliminary, closed-door hearing is scheduled for Monday but it is not clear if the judge will make a decision then on whether to order a trial. Among the five are the helmsman, two other officials who were on the bridge during the grounding and the Costa official on land who was managing the crisis.

Schettino is accused of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning the vessel before all the passengers had been evacuated. Passengers have recounted a harrowing evacuation; By the time the captain ordered passengers to evacuate, the ship was listing so far to one side that many lifeboats could not be lowered.

Schettino has depicted himself as a hero, claiming it was his deft steering after the collision that allowed the ship to move closer to the port and helped to save lives. He also maintained the reef was not marked on the ship's navigational charts.

Sailors in the area, however, say the reef is a well-known tourist attraction in the pristine waters off Giglio.

The ship, meanwhile, remains on its side in Giglio's port; efforts to right it and tow it away are under way.

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