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Saturday 21 July 2018

'What have I done?' asked Costa captain as liner hit rocks

Francesco Schettino, captain of the stricken Costa Concordia
Francesco Schettino, captain of the stricken Costa Concordia

Nick Squires Rome

FRANCESCO SCHETTINO, the captain of the stricken Costa Concordia exclaimed "Madonna, what have I done?" when the liner hit rocks off the Italian island off Giglio, a court has heard.

"Did we hit a reef?" he asked fellow officers, according to an audio recording played in court in Grosseto, Tuscany, where he is on trial for abandoning ship, causing a shipwreck and multiple counts of manslaughter.

The 950ft, 115,000-tonne liner struck a rocky shoal a few yards from the coast of Giglio on the night of Jan 13 last year, leading to the loss of 32 lives.

Salvatore Ursino, one of the ship's junior officers, told the court that Capt Schettino had ordered speed to be increased from 15 to 16 knots five minutes before the ship ran aground.

Maritime experts have said the ship should not have been travelling nearly that fast when it was so close to the island, which lay on its route as it left the port of Civitavecchia, north of Rome, at the start of a week-long cruise around the western Mediterranean.

The court heard that in addition to the officers who were on the bridge that night there was Domnica Cemortan, a Moldovan former ship's dancer who has strenuously denied that she was romantically involved with Capt Schettino.

Ms Cemortan is due to give evidence today.

Also on the bridge was Antonello Tievoli, the ship's head waiter, who came from Giglio. Capt Schettino allegedly sailed the ship close to the island in a "salute" in order to impress him. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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