Cruise ship search back on

2012-01-22 14:32

Giglio - Rescuers on Sunday resumed their search of the shipwreck of the Costa Concordia after a slight shift in the half sunken vessel's position had forced an overnight halt in operations, Italian officials said.

On Saturday, divers retrieved the body of a woman who was found trapped in a corridor of the 290-metre long cruise ship, which ran aground near Giglio island off Italy's western coast on January 13.

The discovery brought the death toll to 12.

Meanwhile the Concordia's captain has reportedly told investigators that it was the policy of the Concordia's owner, Costa Crociere, to have its cruise ships "salute" ports such as Giglio as part of a "planned publicity stunt," something which the Genoa-based company has denied.

"We were also supposed to do it the week before, but I did not do it because of bad weather," Captain Francesco Schettino, purportedly told prosecutors last week, the newspaper Corriere dell Sera said on Sunday.

"We do tourist shipping, we advertise ourselves, and we salute the island," Schettino allegedly told prosecutors, referring to the so-called "inchino" (bow or courtesy) whereby the ship sails close to the shore blowing its horn, or, if the manoeuvre takes place at night, with all its lights on.italy (10h50) sa

According to leaked transcripts of his conversation with prosecutors, Schettino said that the "salute" initially entailed bringing the vessel about half a kilometre from the shore, but that this was subsequently changed to just 280 metres, Corriere della Sera reported.

Schettino remains under house arrest while prosecutors are trying to have him indicted on charges of: manslaughter; causing a shipwreck; and abandoning the ship before all were evacuated.

Schettino has reportedly admitted veering the ship off course, causing it to crash against rocks near Giglio. However, he insists he helped co-ordinate the evacuation, but was forced to do so from Giglio's docks after slipping off the listing ship onto a lifeboat.

Of the more than 4 000 passengers aboard the ship at the time of the accident, more than 20 are still missing. 

- SAPA
Read more on:    italy  |  cruise liner disaster
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