Cruise co. blames captain as 6th body found

GIGLIO, Italy (CBS/AP) -- The captain of the cruise ship that capsized off Tuscany made an unauthorized deviation from its programmed course, a "human error" that led to the vessel's deadly grounding, the ship's Italian owner said Monday. Rescue operations, meanwhile, were halted indefinitely as the wreckage shifted slightly.

Six bodies have been recovered so far from the wreckage of the Costa Concordia, which ran into a reef Friday night and capsized into the port area of Giglio, sparking a frantic evacuation of the 4,200 people onboard. Sixteen people are still missing, including two Americans.

The rescue operation was called off mid-afternoon Monday after the Costa Concordia shifted a few inches in rough seas. The fear is that if the ship shifts significantly, some 500,000 gallons of fuel may begin to leak into the pristine waters around the island of Giglio.

The comments from Costa Crociere chairman and CEO Pier Luigi Foschi ramped up the pressure on the captain, who already is under investigation by authorities for suspected manslaughter and as well as allegations he abandoned ship before the passengers were safe, violating the Italian navigation code.

Foschi said the liner had passed all safety and technical tests in its 2011 evaluation. He said the company's main concern was the safety and well-being of the passengers and crew, as well as to ensure fuel doesn't leak out from the upended hull into the pristine waters off the island of Giglio.

CBS News correspondent Allen Pizzey tells "CBS This Morning" that a mounting body of evidence seems to suggest the ship was far too close to shore when it hit a rock that is now stuck in the hull.

Captain Francesco Schettino claims the rock that tore open his ship was not marked on his charts, says Pizzey, and that he was not too close to shore.

"We were about 300 meters from shore, more or less," Schettino told local media over the weekend. "We should not have had this contact."

Italian Coast Guard officials, local fishermen and ferry operators dismiss the captain's claims, however. The ship's black box recorder has been found and should resolve the issue.

Commander Cosimo Nicastro, a spokesman for the Italian Coast Guard, says, "This records everything, the position, the route, the communication, so a lot of good information for us to know how it went so bad."

The captain also faced accusations Sunday from authorities and passengers that he abandoned ship before everyone was safely evacuated and was showing off when he steered the vessel far too close to shore.

Fire official Luca Cari told state radio Monday that the sixth victim was a man, found in a corridor in the part of the ship that was still above water. He said the victim was wearing the orange-colored life vest of passengers.

The number of unaccounted-for was increased because two Sicilian women, originally listed among the evacuated, had not contacted relatives. Cari said a search of all the ship, including a divers' inspection of the submerged areas, continues, but the sea is becoming rough.

Divers searching the murky depths of the partially submerged ship on Sunday found the bodies of two elderly men still in their life jackets.

The elderly men's bodies were discovered at an emergency gathering point near the restaurant where many of the 4,200 on board were dining when the luxury liner struck rocks or a reef off the tiny island of Giglio. The Italian news agency ANSA reported the dead were an Italian and a Spaniard.

Still, there were glimmers of hope: The rescue of three survivors — a young South Korean couple on their honeymoon and a crew member brought to shore in a dramatic airlift some 36 hours after the grounding late Friday.

Meanwhile, attention focused on the captain, who was spotted by Coast Guard officials and passengers fleeing the scene even as the chaotic and terrifying evacuation was under way.

The ship's Italian owner, a subsidiary of Carnival Cruise lines, issued a statement late Sunday saying there appeared to be "significant human error" on the part of the captain, Schettino, "which resulted in these grave consequences."

Authorities were holding Schettino for suspected manslaughter and a prosecutor confirmed Sunday they were also investigating allegations the captain abandoned the stricken liner before all the passengers had escaped. According to the Italian navigation code, a captain who abandons a ship in danger can face up to 12 years in prison.

A French couple who boarded the Concordia in Marseille, Ophelie Gondelle and David Du Pays, told the Associated Press they saw the captain in a lifeboat, covered by a blanket, well before all the passengers were off the ship.

"The commander left before and was on the dock before everyone was off," said Gondelle, 28, a French military officer.

"Normally the commander should only leave at the end," said Du Pays, a police officer who said he helped an injured passenger to a rescue boat. "I did what I could."

Coast Guard officers later spotted Schettino on land as the evacuation unfolded. The officers urged him to return to his ship and honor his duty to stay aboard until everyone was safely off the vessel, but he ignored them, Coast Guard Cmdr. Francesco Paolillo said.

Schettino insisted he didn't leave the liner early, telling Mediaset television that he had done everything he could to save lives. "We were the last ones to leave the ship," he said.

Questions also swirled about why the ship had navigated so close to the dangerous reefs and rocks that jut off Giglio's eastern coast, amid suspicions the captain may have ventured too close while carrying out a maneuver to entertain tourists on the island.

The ship's owner, Costa Crociere SpA, issued a statement late Sunday saying it was working with investigators to determine "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 statement said. "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."


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