Concordia captain says sorry for 'banal accident'

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The captain of the Costa Concordia cruise ship which ran aground off Italy in January killing 32 people has apologised for the disaster, calling it a "banal accident".

Francesco Schettino, who is accused of manslaughter, broke down in tears during an interview with Italian television when he was asked about the youngest victim – a five-year-old girl. He said those who died after the liner capsized near the tiny island of Giglio were constantly in his thoughts.

The captain admitted he had been "distracted" on the night of the disaster, but insisted he was not solely to blame for it. He denied speculation that he had sailed the ship too close to the shore to show off to a young woman on board, and denied she was his lover.

"I went up to the bridge. I ordered the navigation to be manual, and I didn't have the command. Another officer was in command of the ship," he told Canale 5. "This was a banal accident in which deaths were caused by human interactions."

Mr Schettino was released from house arrest this week, but has been ordered not to leave his home town, near Naples.