Sunday 22 January 2017

Cruise Disaster: Costa Concordia owners blame captain for accident, face €75m loss

Nick Squires

Published 16/01/2012 | 08:07

A helicopter evacuates Marrico Giempietroni, the Costa Concordia's cabin service director after he was rescued from the Costa Concordia. Photo: Getty Images
A helicopter evacuates Marrico Giempietroni, the Costa Concordia's cabin service director after he was rescued from the Costa Concordia. Photo: Getty Images

THE OWNER of the stricken Costa Concordia has blamed the captain for the accident, accusing him of negligence that led directly to the disaster in which at least six people died.

  • Go To

The owners also face a €75m loss as a result of the disaster.

Divers have resumed the search for victims of the Costa Concordia disaster as weather conditions improved following a brief suspension, the emergency services said.

"We have resumed operations after checking that the ship has stabilised," said spokesman Luca Cari, adding that wind and sea conditions that had earlier shifted the wreck had subsided.

Costa Cruises had earlier said "preliminary indications" suggested Captain Francesco Schettino may have been guilty of "significant human error" which resulted in the Costa Concordia running aground, sparking a frantic evacuation operation.

The chairman and CEO of Costa Cruises on Monday blamed "human error" by the captain of the capsized cruise ship that ran aground off Italy's west coast for the accident.

"The company will be close to the captain and will provide him with all the necessary assistance, but we need to acknowledge the facts and we cannot deny human error," he said.

Divers on Monday resumed the search for victims of the Costa Concordia disaster as weather conditions improved following a brief suspension, the emergency services said.

"We have resumed operations after checking that the ship has stabilised," said spokesman Luca Cari, adding that wind and sea conditions that had earlier shifted the wreck had subsided.

The ship's Italian owner, a subsidiary of Carnival Cruise lines, said: "We are working with investigators to find out precisely what went wrong aboard the Costa Concordia.

"While the investigation is ongoing, preliminary indications are that there may have been significant human error on the part of the ship's Master, Captain Francesco Schettino, which resulted in these grave consequences.

"The route of the vessel appears to have been too close to the shore, and the captain's judgment in handling the emergency appears to have not followed standard Costa procedures."

Italian prosecutors claim Captain Francesco Schettino, 52, had approached the island's coastline in a "carelessly clumsy manner" in the moments before a catastrophic collision with an underwater rock formation that caused the ship to list violently and eventually capsize.

With the weather deteriorating and the sea becoming choppier, the 1,000 ft long vessel is beginning to shift its position, raising fears that it could slide deeper into the sea and rupture its fuel tanks.

The ship came to rest on its side in about 15m/45ft of water just outside Giglio’s tiny harbour after smashing into a rocky shoal on Friday night and tearing a huge gash in its hull.

“It is definitely moving,” an international salvage expert, who asked not to be named, told The Daily Telegraph.

“We think the hull has been pierced by a couple of pinnacles of rock but if it starts moving around a lot, it could break free, and that would be a big problem.” The Italian fire service, which is spearheading search and rescue operations, also confirmed that the ship is shifting as a result of the worsening weather off the coast of Tuscany.

The death toll from Friday night's disaster, one of the worst in the cruise industry's recent history, rose to six today after rescuers discovered three more victims, including the bodies of two elderly men wearing life vests inside the vessel. A further 15 people remained missing.

The ship approached the port from the south but sailed too close to the coastline and struck a rocky reef, known to locals as "Le Scole", a few hundred yards out. Islanders said they had never seen the ship try to pass so close before. Ships usually pass by up to five miles away.

A 160ft gash was torn in the £370m ship's hull, causing it to take on large quantities of water in minutes and list violently. The 4,200 passengers and crew were told to abandon ship.

Franco Verusio, the procurator of Grosseto who is leading the investigation, said: "Schettino approached the island of Giglio in a carelessly clumsy manner. The ship hit a reef which embedded itself in the left flank, the ship listed and took on lots of water in the space of two or three minutes. Captain Schettino was in command at that point. "He was the one who ordered that course to be taken, at least according to what we have discovered. There was someone in particular that wanted to be signalled from the ship."

Mr Schettino, who is being questioned on suspicion of multiple manslaughter, claimed yesterday that the reef had not appeared on the nautical charts and had not been picked up by the ship's navigation systems. "We should have had deep water beneath us," he said. "We were about 300 metres [1,000ft] from the rocks more or less."

Prosecutors also accused Mr Schettino of abandoning his ship "well before" the last of his passengers, a criminal offence that can carry a sentence of up to 12 years in jail. The captain denied this, insisting he was the last to leave.

The Concordia capsized after the captain tried to turn around and head into the island’s port in an apparent attempt to make it easier to evacuate.

Survivors, including 23 British passengers and 12 British crew members, claimed the evacuation effort was “chaos”. Mr Schettino’s lawyer, Bruno Leporatti, said his client’s manoeuvre had saved the lives of “several hundred people”. The rescue of the Korean honeymoon couple and Mr Giampetroni, who had a broken leg, gave hope to divers searching thousands of cabins for the missing. The ship’s “black box” navigation system is being examined — with officials saying that the vessel was up to four miles off course.

Pier Luigi Foschi, chairman and chief executive of Costa Crociere, will today face the media for the first time at two press conferences in Genoa, as Italian prosecutors continue to question Capt Schettino in custody.

He is reportedly being held on suspicion of multiple manslaughter and abandoning ship.

Telegraph.co.uk

Read More

Promoted articles

Editors Choice

Also in World News