Costa Concordia cruise captain 'overrode computer'


The captain of the wrecked cruise ship which hit rocks off Italy made
"an unapproved, unauthorised" deviation to his route, the liner's
owners said today.

As the death toll in the disaster rose to six, Costa Cruises' chairman Pier Luigi Foschi apologised for the tragedy which has left dozens of people injured and the 114,000-tonne Costa Concordia lying on its side off Tuscany.

At the centre of the investigation into the disaster is the liner's captain, Francesco Schettino who, according to reports, was "showing off" and sailed as close to land as he did as he wanted to salute to a friend on shore.

He faces accusations that he abandoned the vessel before ensuring that all of the 4,200 people aboard, including 35 Britons, were safely evacuated.

While British survivors told of the panic on board after the ship began to list, Mr Foschi said the liner had passed all safety and technical tests in its 2011 evaluation.

The ships' masters' union Nautilus said vessels of the size of the Costa Concordia were "inherently unstable".

But the UK Chamber of Shipping and the European Cruise Council said such ships met stringent safety regulations which had recently been tightened.

James Thomas, 19, from Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham, a dancer who helped to direct petrified passengers off the vessel, said the instruction to abandon ship should have been given "an hour earlier, if not more".

Explaining that the ship was "ultra safe", Mr Foschi said the captain had made an unauthorised and unapproved deviation from the ship's programmed course.

Mr Foschi said: "This route was put in correctly. The fact that it left from this course is due solely to a manoeuvre by the commander that was unapproved, unauthorised and unknown to Costa."

Mr Foschi added: "Personally and on behalf of the Costa Crociere (Cruises) I want to say we are very sorry for this tragic accident that's happened."

Capt Schettino, who has commanded the ship since it was built in 2006, has said he is not to blame and that nautical charts did not show the rocks off the tiny island of Giglio.

Mr Thomas said people on board "knew something was deadly wrong" when the ship began to tilt.

He went on: "We knew we were going to have to do something drastic to get out of the situation we were in. Even if it was 'just in case' it (the call to abandon ship) should have been called an hour earlier, if not more."

Mr Thomas added: "All I came off with was wet trousers and wet shoes, luckily without any injuries.

"But I saw people with some horrific injuries and that is one thing which I am never going to be able to get out of my head which is the worst thing.

Another survivor, Rose Metcalf, 23, from Wimborne in Dorset, said: "There was absolute panic. It was just terrifying, it was a case of just trying to keep people calm. People were white, people were crying, screaming."

The body of a sixth victim of the tragedy has been found on the ship.

The search for any survivors continued until it had to be suspended in early afternoon after the vessel shifted a few inches in rough seas. Later, with the weather improving, the search resumed.

Costa Cruises are also concerned about the 500,000 gallons of fuel on board which are in 17 separate tanks.

Allan Graveson, senior national secretary of the ships' masters' union, Nautilus, said large liners such as the Costa Concordia were "inherently unstable".

Operators of such ships were "putting profits before safety" and loading them with too many decks, he added.

But Robert Ashdown, the European Cruise Council's technical, environment and operations director, said Mr Graveson's view was "just not right" and big ships were "more stable than they have ever been".

And David Balston, the UK Chamber of Shipping's safety and environment director, said safety regulations were constantly updated to take account of large vessels.

Costa Cruises owner Carnival, the world's largest cruise operator, said the disaster would wipe £62 million from its profits this year.

Shares in the company fell 21% at one point.

Giglio Mayor Sergio Ortelli said hopes of finding any of the missing still alive were minimal, the Italian press reported.

He added that the only hope was that bubbles of air had formed within the ship.

Pro-Russia rebels guard a train containing the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 crash in Torez, Ukraine
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
Arts and Entertainment
Damon Albarn is starting work on a new West End musical
artsStar's 'leftfield experimental opera' is turning mainstream
Life and Style
Paul and his father
artsPaul Carter wants to play his own father in the film of his memoirs
Ben Stokes trudges off after his latest batting failure for England as Ishant Sharma celebrates one of his seven wickets
Arts and Entertainment
Members of the public are invited to submit their 'sexcapades' to Russell T Davies' new series Tofu
Sky's Colin Brazier rummages through an MH17 victim's belongings live on air
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
arts + ents'The Imitation Game' stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley
i100... and no one notices
Arts and Entertainment
Friends reunited: Julian Ovenden, Richard Cant and Matt Bardock in rehearsals for the Donmar revival of 'My Night
with Reg'
theatrePoignancy of Kevin Elyot's play being revived just after his death
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5/6 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The successful applicant w...

Year 5/6 Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The JobThe successful ...

Business Analyst (Systems/ Incident Analyst)

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Business Analyst r...

SAP GRC Architect / Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I am currently looking for a PERMANENT S...

Day In a Page

Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor