Costa Concordia captain becomes Italy's most hated man

Costa Concordia captain becomes Italy's most hated man. 46402.jpegOn Tuesday, an Italian court ordered to place the captain of the wrecked Costa Concordia liner under house arrest. The captain, Francesco Schettino, is suspected of involuntary manslaughter and of fleeing the ship.

The 52-year-old captain may face the prison term of up to 15 years, NTV reports. He has already earned the reputation of the most hated man in Italy, local newspapers say.

He has defended himself, saying his manoeuvre after the ship hit rocks and pitched onto its side saved lives. He said he left the ship to co-ordinate evacuation efforts from the shore. But in a dramatic port authority recording of a telephone exchange as the disaster unfolded late on Friday, Schettino repeatedly told a port official who was urging him to get back on board the vessel that he could not get access, AFP reports.

About 4,200 people were on board when the ship went down shortly after it had left a port near Rome at the start of a seven-day Mediterranean cruise, and survivors have spoken of scenes of confusion and panic on board.

Costa Crociere, Europe's largest cruise operator, said earlier that the accident occurred as a result of an "inexplicable" error by the captain and distanced itself from the actions of their employee.

Yesterday the death toll rose to 11 when divers located five more bodies, all of them adults wearing life jackets, in the rear of the ship near an emergency evacuation point. A total of 24 people are still missing, The Daily Mail said.

According to Italian media, the captain decided to take the ship closer to the shore to salute a friend of his on the island. Prosecutors described the captain's actions as "awkward and irresponsible." Schettino claims that his ship hit the underwater rock which was not indicated on the maps. The ship should have been at least five miles out to sea.  The vessel struck the rocks and then continued for several hundred metres before running aground further along the coast.

There were the total of 4,234 people, including 111 Russian tourists staying on board the liner.  There were no victims among the tourists from Russia.


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