The wrong maps, doors left open, bad wiring: is this why Costa Concordia really sank?

Consumer group claims electrical problems may have led to the loss of several passengers stuck in lifts


Senior officials at Costa Cruises knew that the Concordia liner had been sailing with electrical problems several days before it crashed on to rocks off the Italian coast with the loss of 32 lives, it was claimed yesterday.

A raft of damaging new allegations, leaked from Italian magistrates, also suggested the main doors, which were meant to be sealed, were not closed properly and that the crew were using unauthorised maritime charts when the vessel ran aground on 13 January with more than 4,000 passengers and crew aboard.

Codacons, the Italian consumer group that is leading a class-action suit against Costa Cruises, yesterday joined the attack, claiming electrical problems may have contributed to the loss of several passengers, who are thought to have died in the stricken vessel's lifts. Codacons lawyer Giuliano Leuzzi said it was feared four victims may have drowned while trapped in the lifts.

The bulk of the claims, including the allegations of crucial failures in the ship's electrical power control system, were denied by the cruise company.

Codacons nonetheless threatened to raid the wrecked vessel, which it claimed was now being dismantled before important evidence had been collected. In particular, the group is unhappy with a decision by prosecutors to allow Costa Cruises to remove radar equipment from the wreck, which lies semi-submerged off the Tuscan island of Giglio. "If they continue to dismantle the vessel without allowing the parties involved to perform the necessary checks, we will not hesitate to raid the Concordia along with survivors," said Codacons president Carlo Rienzi.

Problems with the Concordia's black box voyage data recorder (VDR) emerged on 9 January, according to correspondence acquired by investigators. And it was claimed yesterday that the vessel's black box was not working at the time of the collision.

In one of a series of emails in the days before the disaster, Costa Crociere's technical director, Pierfrancesco Ferro, told a repair firm: "The VDR has broken down for the umpteenth time... The situation is becoming unbearable." The emails, in which he refers to the faulty device aboard the Concordia, began on 10 January. The correspondence indicates there were plans to finally resolve the problem when the liner docked at Savona on 14 January.

In a statement yesterday, Costa Cruises said the VDR "had only issued an error code". "This in no way meant that the device was out of service, as is demonstrated by the fact that the data it contained were perfectly in line with engineers' expectations." It added: "There is no international regulation or convention that prohibits a ship from sailing in a similar situation."

Codacons, however, disagreed. "The bottom line is that the ship should never have set sail in that condition," Mr Rienzi, a lawyer, said. "Maritime law clearly states a vessel has to be fully functioning." The Costa statement also denied that a power failure affected the vessel's lifts, or the closure of the sealed doors. But it has not commented on the statement by one crew member, Simone Canessa, that doors meant to have been sealed were open at the time of the impact as "this was a practice used during the navigation to ease the flow of people who were at work".

On the claims regarding "unauthorised" sea charts, Costa Cruises said "the ship was equipped with all the paper and electronic nautical charts needed to complete the voyage planned… but what is most worth remembering is that the ship should never have been sailing so close to the coast".

Francesco Schettino, the vessel's captain, is being investigated for multiple manslaughter and abandoning ship before all of the 4,229 passengers and crew. Eight others, including three executives from Costa Cruises, are under investigation. Operations to remove the shipwreck began in June and are expected to take up to a year to complete. The results of technical analysis will be revealed at a court hearing on July 21.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge face-off in the final
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture