Costa Concordia captain 'defied orders'

 

Five more bodies were recovered from a shipwreck off Italy today as an audio tape appeared to expose the captain defying orders to return to his vessel.

The discovery of the victims took the death toll from the Costa Concordia cruise liner disaster to 11, with 23 still unaccounted for.

As the search for the missing continued, Italian media published a recording of a conversation between Captain Francesco Schettino and the port authorities in which the captain was ordered not to abandon his stricken ship after it hit rocks on Friday night.

Schettino had begun by claiming everything was fine, shortly before the ship keeled over off the Tuscan coast with 4,200 on board, according to the timings of the recording.

At 9.49pm he was asked by a port official over the ship radio: "Concordia, is everything ok?"

The response from the ship was "positive", Il Fatto Quotidiano reported.

But five minutes later the operations room at Livorno port was said to have contacted the liner again after a passenger had allegedly reported a problem and mentioned the word "shipwreck".

The inquiry was reportedly again met with the response: "It is just a technical problem."

By 12.42am, the captain was said to have claimed there were only about 40 people missing and said he was not on board.

The recording of his conversation with Italian coast guard Captain Gregorio De Falco indicated his response was met with fury and an order that he return to his ship.

"You go on board and then you will tell me how many people there are," Captain De Falco reportedly shouted. "Is that clear?"

But Schettino resisted, saying the ship was tipping and that it was dark. At the time, he was in a lifeboat and said he was co-ordinating the rescue from there.

Captain De Falco shouted back: "And so what? You want to go home, Schettino? It is dark and you want to go home? Get on that prow of the boat using the pilot ladder and tell me what can be done, how many people there are and what their needs are. Now.

"You go aboard. It is an order. Don't make any more excuses. You have declared the abandoning of the ship, now I am in charge."

Capt Schettino, 52, was finally heard agreeing to re-board but it was unclear whether he did so.

Prosecutors have accused him of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and abandoning his ship before all passengers were evacuated.

He could face up to 12 years in prison if found to have abandoned his ship, before any other wrongdoing is taken into account.

He insisted in an interview before his jailing that he stayed with the vessel to the end.

But the chairman of Costa Cruises has blamed him for making an unauthorised deviation from the cruise's route so that he could "make a salute".

Pier Luigi Foschi has apologised for the tragedy which has left dozens of people injured and the 114,000-tonne ship lying on its side.

Some 700 people are involved in the recovery operation but hopes of finding anyone alive have been growing slimmer by the hour.

The local police force at Grosseto said it was possible that not all those missing were still at sea however.

"It's possible some have returned home and not made contact," a spokeswoman said. "There were a lot of boats bringing people from the island of Giglio to the mainland so it might be that some people left Italy without saying 'I'm safe'.

"Of course we hope there are still people alive but we can't be certain anyone will be."

Earlier, Italian navy divers set off explosives to create four small openings in the hull of the cruise ship to speed the search for the missing passengers and crew.

The five bodies recovered were all those of adults wearing life jackets and were found in the rear of the ship near an emergency evacuation point, according to Italian coast guard Commander Cosimo Nicastro.

All were thought to have been passengers.

According to a list of the nationalities of those missing released by Italian officials before the death toll rose, there were 14 Germans, six Italians, four French, two Americans, one Hungarian, one Indian and one Peruvian still unaccounted for.

One of these was confirmed dead yesterday but has not yet been identified, police said.

The missing Italians are reported to include five-year-old Dyana Arlotti and her 34-year-old father William, from Rimini.

Meanwhile consumer rights organisation Codacon has lodged a legal claim with the public prosecutor's office at Grosseto in which they are seeking to calculate the "administrative and criminal responsibility" of Costa Crociere, the ship's operator.

Codacon also said a number of people who were booked on to cruises in the coming weeks and months had decided not to go on them as they had been scared off by the tragedy.

"In such cases, fear and the state of anxiety are valid reasons for exchanging the holiday package they have bought, or for obtaining a refund," the organisation said in a statement.

"Anxiety and fear linked to the incident, in fact, would irredeemably compromise the quality of their cruise."

The association has published on its website instructions for those who wish to cancel a cruise they have already booked.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea